Alvin Curran's music achieves the perfect balance of challenge and musicality, setting him apart from both the intellectualists and tradition-minded composers who often befuddle modern classical music. Using orchestral instruments, electronic noises and found sounds, Curran's works can include beautiful, quiet melodies and shattering, harsh sonorities blended into a decisively planned style of composition. After studying with Elliott Carter, Curran helped found the free improvisational ensemble Musica Elettronica Viva. One of his most lauded pieces is Crystal Psalms (1988), a stunningly ambitious piece recognizing the fiftieth anniversary of the "Night of the Broken Glass," the first major German attack on Jews. The haunting composition includes over 300 musicians in six different countries performing simultaneously via radio broadcast with strings, woodwinds, accordion, choir, percussion, found sound and pre-recorded sounds of prayer.