Blogs The Green Room Jocelyn Hagen

Jocelyn Hagen (b.1980), a native of Valley City, North Dakota, composes music that has been described as “dramatic and deeply moving” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul). She is a two-time winner of prestigious McKnight fellowships in 2010 and 2014, and her first forays into composition were via songwriting, and this is very evident in her work. The majority of her compositional output is for voice: solo, chamber, and choral. In 2012 she collaborated with choreographer Penelope Freeh to create _Slippery Fish_, a quartet for two dancers, soprano, and viola, and the piece was reviewed as "completely original in all respects" (Star Tribune). Currently she is artist-in-residence at the North Dakota State University Challey School of Music, where she teaches, writes curriculum and brings in collaborators to perform her work.

The Guitarist, the Chanteuse, and the Band: Jocelyn Hagen on Victoire/Glasser/Noveller

To spark discussion, the Walker invites Twin Cities artists and critics to write overnight reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, composer Jocelyn Hagen shares her perspective on Saturday night’s performance by Victoire/Glasser/Noveller, co-presented by the Walker […]

Noveller performs with Victoire at the Walker Art Center as part of a co-presentation with the SPCO's Liquid Music series on May 9, 2015. Photo: © Tony Nelson

Noveller performs with Victoire at the Walker Art Center as part of a co-presentation with the SPCO’s Liquid Music series on May 9, 2015. Photo: © Tony Nelson

To spark discussion, the Walker invites Twin Cities artists and critics to write overnight reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, composer Jocelyn Hagen shares her perspective on Saturday night’s performance by Victoire/Glasser/Noveller, co-presented by the Walker Art Center and the SPCO’s Liquid Music series. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments! 

Last weekend the Walker Art Center co-presented the final concert of the 2014-15 Liquid Music Series with the much-anticipated Victoire show featuring fellow female composer/performers Glasser and Noveller. Taking the stage for a solid two hours, these versatile musicians filled the room with both evolving and revolving textures created by stacked layers of sound. Victoire is led by composer Missy Mazzoli, who also played keyboards and used Ableton to manipulate sounds onstage; she prefers to refer to the group as a band instead of a new music ensemble. This approach to such boundary-defying chamber music is changing the way audiences approach the listening environment, and this is what the Liquid Music Series strives to achieve with each performance. Victoire is quite possibly the best incarnation of such a group, because of the consistency of their performers, the regularity at which they perform, and the collaborative way they bring Mazzoli’s ideas to fruition. They are at their best when showing off their virtuosity, especially the incredible playing of violinist Olivia de Prato and double bassist Eleanor Oppenheim. Victoire is unintimidated by dark, thorny, and even muddy textures, nor of filling the room with large, pulsing, loud sound.

Guitarist Noveller succeeded in bringing to life low, bubbly textures with wailing, sharp melodies, letting feedback and distortion color the textures she created by looping. The music sounded exploratory, along with the bright, glossy video imagery, but the limitations of looping made the music a bit static.

Glasser’s sensual performance with recorded tracks showcased her wispy, floaty voice against varied rhythmic textures of an ever-surprising palette. Her music came alive once the instrumentalists of Victoire joined her for the final set. If, ten years ago, I had to imagine what contemporary music would sound like in 2015, it would and would not have sounded like this ~ in the best sense ~ I don’t think I could have imagined this sound. There was a magical, futuristic characteristic difficult to describe, and this is exactly what music created in the present time should hope to achieve.

The video component of the evening didn’t always support or enhance the listening experience, and overall the music became a bit harmonically stagnant over two hours, but this final concert for Kate Nordstrum’s visionary series was overall a great success, given to a welcoming, sold-out crowd.

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