The Artist-in-Residence concert is happening this Thursday March 17 in the Haas Fine Arts Center featuring choral composer Jocelyn Hagen and all six choral ensembles: Concert Choir, Symphonic, Singing Statesmen, Novum Voce, the Treble choir, and the Women’s Concert Chorale.
According to Hagen’s Website, “she (Hagen) is 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.”
In addition, the website said that In 2013 Jocelyn Hagen was the winner of the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus Composition Competition, in 2015 she won a Sage award for “Best Overall Design,” and in 2017 she won American Prize in Composition, in the Opera/Musical Theater division.
Hagen’s visit gives the opportunity for students to observe a modern composer up close.
The choral department works with the Offices of Research and Sponsored Program to bring artists like Hagen to UW-Eau Claire.
“We receive sponsorships from the Offices of Research and Sponsored Program (ORSP). We have funding that allows us to bring in guest artists every year. We are lucky enough to have funding from the University that allows us to bring in such well known composers” Choral Area Director Frank Watkins said.
Two of those students who get to work with Hagen are choral area assistants, 4th-year Hannah DeYoung and Concert Choir President and student director, 3rd-year McKinley Uelman.
“As a choral assistant I observe everything choir. Which includes all six of our ensembles,” DeYoung said.
From administrative work to mentorship with the other directors, DeYoung helps put a concert together.
“In the case of Hagen there’s a lot of logistics. Since she’s a big choir name we need to make sure she’s feeling accommodated,” DeYoung said.
DeYoung works closely with directors Frank Watkins, who directs Concert Choir and Women’s Choir Chorale; Chris McGinley, director of The Singing Statesmen, Symphonic Choir and the Novum Voce Choir; and Julie DeBoer, who directs Treble Choir.
According to Uelman, “Jocelyn Hagen is a current composer and that shows a bunch of different music that’s not anything Renaissance or Baroque, it’s music that’s happening now,” Uelman said. “It has taught me what music has become now in this age.”
Uelman said that being exposed to music composed by Hagen is “so important.”
“Especially with restrictions opening up and just the pandemic of course still going on, it’s been really touching to be making music that she composed because Jocelyn Hagen puts so much emotion into her compositions and being able to sing those pieces is a really touching experience,” Uelman said.
Watkins has worked in the choral department for the last eight years and has been teaching students about current composers.
Working with a living composer is often rare for any choral ensemble, Watkins said.
“I think (Hagen) represents a new voice of the choral world, being a living composer,” Watkins said. “Lot’s of the time we are studying music by people who are dead and gone but, in this case it’s by someone who’s living and making music at this time.”
Watkins said he wants his students to leave the concert with insight.
“To get more insight on what it means to be a living composer,” he said. “More insight into the process of making her music and overall appreciation for music that has been composed today.”
The Thursday March 17 concert will be held in Gantner hall in the Haas Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.
Dutton can be reached at [email protected].