Jocelyn Hagen has been described as a pioneer in the field of composition, pushing the expectations of musicians and audiences with large-scale multimedia works, electro-acoustic music, dance, opera, and publishing. Her first forays into composition were via songwriting, still very evident in her work. The majority of her compositions are for the voice: solo, chamber and choral.
In 2019, choirs and orchestras across the country are premiering her multimedia symphony The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci that includes video projections created by a team of visual artists, highlighting da Vinci’s spectacular drawings, inventions, and texts. Her dance opera collaboration with choreographer Penelope Freeh, Test Pilot, received the 2017 American Prize in the musical theater/opera division as well as a Sage Award for “Outstanding Design.”
She is also one half of the band Nation, an a cappella duo with composer/performer Timothy C. Takach, and together they perform and serve as clinicians for choirs from all over the world.
Hagen’s commissions include Conspirare, the Minnesota Opera, the Minnesota Orchestra, the American Choral Directors Associations of Minnesota, Georgia, Connecticut and Texas, the North Dakota Music Teachers Association, Cantus, the Boston Brass, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the St. Olaf Band, among many others. Her work is independently published through JH Music, as well as through Graphite Publishing, G. Schirmer, Fred Bock Music Publishing, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Boosey and Hawkes.
To learn more, visit www.jocelynhagen.com
The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
Premiered at the 2019-2020 concert, Voices Awakened
Lyrics from Movement 9: Look at the Stars
O Time! Consumer of all things;
O envious age! Thou dost destroy all things And devour all things
With the relentless teeth of years, little by little in a slow death.
If you look at the stars, cutting off the rays, You will see those stars
So minute that it would seem that nothing could be smaller;
It is in fact their great distance that is the reason of their diminution;
For many of them are many times larger Than the star which is the earth with water.
Now reflect what this, our star,
Must look like at such a distance, and then consider how many stars
Might be added,
Both in longtitude and latitude,
Between those stars that are scattered over the darkened sky.
Look at the stars. O Time!
Wisdom is the daughter of experience.
This work was commissioned by organizations across the United States, and has been performed over two dozen times. As a multi-media work, this nine-movement piece is performed with series of videos depicting the inner workings of Leonardo da Vinci's notebook. Using Muséik's technology, Hagen describes her work as unique from your typical movie backtracks; instead of the music lining up with the video, the video lines up with the music. To see Hagen discuss her process in depth, you can watch her TedTalk here.
Words from Jocelyn Hagen
"In the summer of 2016 I attended an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts featuring da Vinci’s Codex Leicester. Seeing these pages with my own eyes cemented my devotion to developing this project. The liquidity of his mind and the way he connects disparate ideas as a means of understanding them is genuinely inspiring. And da Vinci was known as much for his failures as his successes. That’s inspiring as well. He wasn’t afraid to take ideas out of context or take risks.
Because da Vinci’s intricate handwriting and sketches are stunningly beautiful, it would be odd not to include them as a visual component to this project. As a writer, da Vinci wrote from right to left, backwards, as if in a mirror. These beautifully scribed words scroll above the musicians and add a wonderful texture to the performance. Many sketches in the notebooks are of the human form, corresponding perfectly to his observations on the proportions of the body. Filmmaker Isaac Gale took these images and breathed life into them with a living Vitruvian Man in the fifth movement.
Ion Concert Media created MUSÈIK (pronounced mew-ZAY-ik), the world’s most advanced digital sync software, a few years ago in Minnesota, and ever since I learned about the technology I had a strong desire to create a project that utilizes it to its fullest potential. The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci is the first large concert work to be created with this technology in mind."
Premiered at the 2016-2017 concert, Women on the Rise
Lyrics from Movement 2: Come, Spring
We find ourselves
in a world less light, the hours of darkness upon us.
We find ourselves watching the sky,
for the sign, for the storm, for its coming.
O to fight
each slur, each slap. Each injustice, each inequity.
O to take flight;
flock together, flee
to a world that is warm, & welcoming.
We’ll take the shape
of tender shoots, the sky— the blue, of small pools.
on the wings of returning birds to the music
of waking trees.
We’ll fall silver
with the rain.
Make the world kind & beautiful again.
This piece was graciously commissioned by Phil Hettema in celebration of VOX's 20th anniversary. The text is from two female poets: Janet Windeler Ryan, for the movement titled Sky Song, and Julia Klatt Singer, for Come, Spring and This Sky Falls. This three-movement work depicts the acts of taking flight, both literally and figuratively. "Flight," in this work represents empowering the feminine spirit, letting go of the old, and welcoming in the new.
Words from Holley Replogle-Wong
"Flight is a multi-movement choral work by Jocelyn Hagen that was commissioned by Phil Hettema for Vox Femina’s 20th Anniversary season. The texts by Janet Windeler Ryan (“I. Sky Song”) and Julia Klatt Singer (“II. Come Spring” and “III. This Sky Falls”) are varied depictions of the act of taking flight. In “I. Sky Song”, flight is a process of becoming: the restless struggle to break the bonds of gravity and leave everything behind: the rooftops of civilization, the people who held you back. In victory, the music soars as flight is achieved: “this sky song is mine!” “II. Come, Spring” is a longing for renewal. Angular, fragmented motives punctuate the silence like tender shoots poking through the frosty ground, building to a sudden ascent and a call for the return of Spring: returning birds, waking trees, and a restoration of the world’s beauty. “III. This Sky Falls” is a ballad with the groove of flight achieved, basking in the freedom of a glorious, sustained glide through the sky and the way the magnificent vista alights within our bodies and under our skin."
Premiered at 2011-2021 concert, Celebrating the Muse
O my lady, on hearing your sound, hills and flatlands bow.
O my lady, guardian of all the great essences, you have picked them up and hung them
on your hand.
You are lofty like Heaven. Let the world know! You are wide like the earth. Let the world know!
You strike everything down in battle.
O my lady, on your wings
you hack away the land and charge disguised as a charging storm,
roar as a roaring storm,
thunder and keep thundering, and snort with evil winds.
O primary one,
moon goddess Inanna of heaven and earth!
On your harp of sighs I hear your dirge.
O my lady, this song has made you great and exalted you.
O my lady, wife of An, I have told your fury!
Moon Goddess has been described as a distinctly feminine anthem, with lyrics written by Enheduanna, the first writer in history whos work has been perserved. Comissioned by the 2011 ACDA Women's Choir Commissioning Consortium, this piece tells the powerful story of the moon goddess, Inanna.
Words from Jocelyn Hagen
"Enheduanna (born ca. 2300 B.C.) was a moon priestess, the daughter of King Sargon of Agade, who reigned over the world’s first empire, extending from the Mediterranean to Persia. Sargon is the first important leader to emerge from the half-light of prehistory into the full light of a written record. His daughter, Enheduanna, is the first writer, male or female, in history whose name and work have been preserved. Her personal history survives in highly politicized poems, which in their cosmic vision and ethical outrage recall Isaiah. In her poems to the Sumerian goddess of love Inanna, she speaks to a deity who has descended to earth as an ally, as a friend to help her in her need. In the poems’ sensuality, surprising metaphors, and intimacy, they recall Sappho’s poems to her ally Aphrodite."
~A Book of Women Poets, from Antiquity to Now, Ed. By Aliki and Willis Barnstone