Daron Hagen


Daron Hagen (b. 1961, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was recognized in 2014 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with an Academy Award citing his "outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledging the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice," an extraordinary statement, since his effusively eclectic works blend with subversive fluency Renaissance polyphony and extended vocal techniques, 40s Americana and electro-acoustic soundscapes, ambient sound installations and opulent multi-media verismo operas, 60s folk rock and Weimar agitprop, sprawling Modernist sound mass works and exquisitely-wrought art songs. 

His extensive catalogue of concert works testifies to a lifetime dedicated to the creation of serious repertoire: 5 symphonies, 15 orchestral works, 14 concerti, 14 cantatas and operas, 22 song cycles (comprised of over 300 songs), 31 works for mixed ensemble, 8 solo works, 15 choral works, 8 band works, 3 ballets, and numerous miscellaneous occasional works. 

These works are performed steadily worldwide, in venues large and small, from the Louvre (Paris) to the Royal Albert Hall (London); from the Ullens Center (Beijing) to Sumida Toriphony Hall (Tokyo); from Bass Performance Hall (Fort Worth) to McCaw Hall (Seattle); from Lincoln Center (New York City) to the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.). He has composed new works for the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony and Opera, National Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Buffalo Philharmonic. Collaborators include Nathan Gunn, Kate Lindsey, Robert Orth, Stephen Wadsworth, Leonard Bernstein, Gerard Schwarz, JoAnn Falletta, Gary Graffman, Jaime Laredo, and Leonard Slatkin.

Hagen is also one of the most comprehensively experienced and knowledgeable opera composers working today. Of his nine operas, he has co-written all of the treatments, co-written four of the libretti, written two alone, written the book and lyrics for his own commercial musical, stage directed several, conducted the cast recordings and premières of four, coached them all from the piano, and supervised set and lighting teams executing his designs. 

Hagen has concertized steadily since 1982 as a collaborative pianist, taught composition at the Curtis Institute, Bard College, the Princeton Atelier, Chicago College of the Performing Arts, and the City University of New York, served as president of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, and is one of only two Lifetime Members of the Corporation of Yaddo. He is also a prolific essayist whose prose appears regularly in the Huffington Post and numerous other print and online journals. Past artistic director and chair of faculty of the Seasons Music Festival, he is currently chair of composition for the Wintergreen Music Festival. 

He has extensive experience playing in and conducting opera and musical theater pit orchestras, from the regional bus-and-truck level to Broadway; he served for over a decade as a copyist, proofreader, arranger, and editor on Broadway, and for a roster of concert music composers (including Thomsen, Rorem, Menotti, Carter, and Diamond); he's ghost-written film scores, and executed electro-acoustic soundscapes for integration into his own theatrical scores.

His music has received two Rockefeller Bellagio Fellowships, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award. He studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Juilliard School.

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