Monday, April 28, 2008

Daron Hagen's "Masquerade"

The double concerto Masquerade takes as its starting place the conventions of Commedia dell'arte, a popular form of improvisational theater which began in Italy in the 15th century and remained popular into the 18th century. Costumes and masks identified life's universal characters, first described centuries earlier in Greek and Roman comedies, and the classic plots often revolved around lovers. One of the most important characters was Arlecchino, also known as Pedrolino, or the Harlequin.

The soloists take on the roles of musical lovers in the first movement (Burlesque). The story of their courtship is told by two harmonically and melodically elusive contrasting themes. A vecchio (elder) arrives on the scene. By seducing one of the innamorati, he forces them apart and the movement ends. The second movement (Elegy) is a lament for lost love. It tells the story of the lovers apart. As the movement progresses they grow older, and wiser with experience.

After many years, in the movement entitled The Last of Pedrolino, they are reunited one evening at the bedside of a mutual friend, the zanni Pedrolino, who, dying, wishes to see them both one last time. Inspired by Pedrolino, the two lovers reconnect, no longer as lovers but as old friends and soul mates. In a final Galoppade, they relive the open-hearted joy in singing of their childhoods before parting forever.

Composed over a two year period, the concerto was completed in February of 2007 and is dedicated to Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson who together introduced the piece with the Sacramento Philharmonic, conducted by Laura Jackson, on 16 February 2008 and with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Troy Peters, on May 3 2008.

-- Daron Hagen


Daron Hagen (1961- )

Daron Hagen's orchestral compositions have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, American Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Houston, Denver, Knoxville, Florida, Oakland, Brooklyn and New Mexico Symphonies, among dozens of others. His five operas (Shining Brow, Bandanna, Vera of Las Vegas, Broken Pieces, and The Antient Concert) have received multiple performances internationally. The composer of over two hundred published art songs and cycles, his catalogue continues to grow as major orchestras, ensembles and soloists commission and record new works.

Current projects include Amelia, an opera for the Seattle Opera, a violin concerto for Michael Ludwig and the Buffalo and Virginia Symphonies, a fourth symphony for the Albany Symphony, and a string quartet for the Terezin Music Foundation.

Premieres scheduled for the 07-08 season include a double concerto for Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson (also being premiered with the Sacramento Symphony), a triple concerto for the Amelia Piano Trio and a consortium of pre-professional orchestras, and a fourth trio for the Finisterra Piano Trio.

Mr. Hagen made his debut as a stage director with the Buffalo Philharmonic's performances of his opera Shining Brow last November. He has released two CDs as a collaborative pianist with baritone Paul Kreider on the Arsis label. The recording of his opera Bandanna under his baton (Albany Troy 849/50) was chosen by Fanfare Magazine as one of the ten notable releases of 2006 and chosen as an "ArkivMusic Recommendation.”

President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation and a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo, Mr. Hagen is a graduate of the Juilliard School and of the Curtis Institute of Music. He has received the Kennedy Center Friedheim, the Bearns, Barlow, and ASCAP-Nissim Prizes, two Rockefeller Bellagio Residencies, the Camargo Residency, multiple residencies at VCCA and MacDowell, as well as scholarships and development grants from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and Opera America. His music is published by Carl Fischer and EC Schirmer. Recordings are available on Albany, Arsis, Sierra, CRI, and other labels.

Mr. Hagen maintains a vigorous private teaching schedule and gives numerous master classes and residencies at colleges and music festivals. He is also a frequent grants panelist and has served twice as Composer in Residence for the Princeton University Atelier; as Franz Lehar Composer in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh; as Artist in Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Sigma-Chi-William P. Huffman Composer in Residence at Miami University; Artist in Residence at Baylor University; on the musical studies faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music; nine years on the composition faculty of Bard College; as a Visiting Professor at the City College of New York; and as a Lecturer in Music at New York University.

He has lived in New York City since 1984.

A pre-concert discussion, “Musically Speaking,” moderated by VPR’s Walter Parker will be held on May 3 at 7 p.m. at the Flynn Center, free for members of the audience. The discussion will feature Daron Hagen and guest conductor Troy Peters, providing entertaining insight into the music, composers and musicians themselves.