About Frances White


Frances White is a composer of instrumental, vocal, and electronic music. Her work has been called “stunning” (American Record Guide) “moving” (Fanfare), “spectacularly beautiful”, and “so atmospheric and sensuous it is almost fragrant” (Musicworks). She is particularly known for her works combining live performers and electronic sound spaces. Her music conveys intimacy and immediacy; her tactile and deeply expressive approach derives from a sincere belief in the transformative nature of sound. White studies the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), and finds that its unique spiritual and sonic voice informs her work as a composer.

A 2004 Guggenheim fellow, she has received awards and grants from organizations such as The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, the Aaron Copland Fund, Prix Ars Electronica, the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, the International Computer Music Association, Hungarian Radio, ASCAP, the Bang On A Can Festival, the Other Minds Festival, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Dale Warland Singers, the American Music Center, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Notable commissions include one from the Third Practice Festival to write The ocean inside for the acclaimed ensemble eighth blackbird; from the Fromm Foundation, for A flower on the farther side for the viol consort Parthenia; from the MAP Fund for Tracing for trombonist Monique Buzzarté; from The NY Viola Society, funded by Commissioning Music USA (formerly Meet the Composer) for Between here and not here for Ensemble Meme; from the Solaris Vocal Ensemble of Seattle for far, still for chorus, cello and electronic sound; and from The Crossing chamber choir of Philadelphia for The third night. Recently, she wrote The book of evening for shakuhachi and string quartet for  the Momenta Quartet with funding from the Sparkplug Foundation and a New Music USA Project Grant; and We grow accustomed to the dark for guitarist Giacomo Baldelli, commissioned by The Composers Guild of New Jersey. Her work A flower on the farther side appeared as part of the installation Traces on the farther side at the 2019 Biennale in Venice. While participating in the immersive residency experience Composing in the Wilderness, she created Departing Landscape: Shooting Stars, commissioned by the Puffin Foundation for the Corvus ensemble. In recent years, she has become increasingly interested in telling stories through music, and has collaborated with writer James Pritchett to create a number of works that involve narration with music.

White’s music can be heard on CD on the Wergo, Centaur, Nonsequitur, Harmonia Mundi, Albany, Ravello, Mode, MSR Classics, and Bridge Records labels. White’s music was featured as part of the soundtrack of three of Gus Van Sant’s award-winning films: Elephant, Paranoid Park, and Milk.

Profiles & interviews

Profile by James Pritchett written for Array (the journal of the International Computer Music Association) in 1996.

When I was in Richmond for the premiere of The ocean inside at the Third Practice Festival, Tim Munro of eighth blackbird interviewed me. Listen to it, and excerpts of The ocean inside, on the eighth blackbird blog.

The folks at tokafi asked me 15 questions, and I provided 15 answers for their blog.

Writings about music

On women in computer music, written in response to Mara Helmuth’s statement.

Composer and material in musique concrete (1990) is a summary of my thinking about the use of “real world” sounds in electronic music, with reference to specific works by Dodge, Stockhausen, and Risset.

Contact information

E-mail Frances White

Frances White
105 Linden Avenue
Princeton, NJ 08540-8535