Music on the Edge Presents Daron Hagen as Pitt’s 2007 Franz Lehar Composer-in-Residence

Music on the Edge Presents Daron Hagen as Pitt’s 2007 Franz Lehar Composer-in-ResidenceDaron Hagen, Pitt’s 2007 Franz Lehar Composer-in-Residence, is no stranger to accolades. Hagen has been described as “utterly brilliant” (The New York Times), the creator of “soaring melodies” (Times of London), possessed of “a gift for the Big Tune” (New Yorker), and a “prodigiously gifted composer” (Washington Post), who is “born to write operas” (Chicago Tribune). Daron Hagen (b. 1961 Milwaukee) is the composer of four major operas, as well as numerous orchestral, chamber, choral, and lyric compositions. His catalog continues to grow dramatically as prominent orchestras and musicians, including the New York Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Gary Graffman, and the Kings Singers, commission and record new works. Many of these works have been recorded by labels such as Albany, Arabesque, Arsis, Clarion, CRI, Klavier, and Sierra.

Hagen will introduce and discuss some of his recent music during a performance by the Music on the Edge Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble led by Roger Zahab and made up of members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra. Soprano Gilda Lyons and tenor Robert Frankenberry will perform Hagen’s one act opera Broken Pieces (2003), a work receiving its premiere in a new version for voices and thirteen instruments. Frankenberry will be the vocalist for Songs of Madness and Sorrow then perform as pianist in the world premiere of Hagen’s trio Wayfaring Stranger. Frankenberry will be joined by Roger Zahab on violin and cellist Paige Riggs. During intermission, Music on the Edge co-director Eric Moe will interview Hagen about his music.

The concert takes place at Bellefield Hall Auditorium on Monday, February 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets purchased in advance through ProArts are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. Call 412-394-3353 or visit Tickets at the door are $15 and $10. Pitt students are admitted free.

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh will present an INFORMANCE of Mathew Rosenblum's RedDust February 16, from 4-6pm at Frick Fine Arts Auditorium (across from the Carnegie Library in Oakland) The INFORMANCE is free and open to the public.

To artists, dancers, singers, musicians, choreographers, composers, scene designers, video artists, researchers, critics, writers, those interested in Gertrude Stein, and appreciators of new work. What are the challenges and processes in creating an interdisciplinary work that includes music, drama, dance and video? What technologies are used and what are some of the dynamics in realizing a work of this nature?

The event will include excerpts from the work in progress and a discussion with the creators and performers.


Mathew Rosenblum – composer and sound designer

Jonathan Eaton – artistic director

Paul Hostetter - conductor

Kurt Ralske – video artist

Attack Theatre – choreographers and dancers

Anna Singer, Kelvin Chan, Jo-Ellen Miller – singers


RedDust world premiere May 18-20 at the Andy Warhol Museum


Description of RedDust

RedDust has intersecting narratives from the experimental writings of Gertrude Stein, Serbian writer Svetislav Basara, Ts’ao Hsüeh-ch’in’s “The Story of the Stone” a 1934 NBC radio interview with Gertrude Stein and dream literature from Barthelme, Lu Xan, and others. This multi-media music drama includes singers, musicians, dancers, the choreography of Attack Theatre, spoken and sung words with acoustic and electronic instruments, surround-sound audio, and real-time video. Many of these elements will be explored in the work-in-progress informance.

Red Dust is focused through the perspective of the central character, a Chinese author, Shi-yin. Shi-yin is caught in a crisis of conscience and is unable to write: he had an affair with a young girl that ended in her suicide. He tries repeatedly to exorcise his feelings of guilt and confusion, and rediscover his creative impulse, by writing the story of a stone that comes to life as a young boy. The boy-stone is taken on a journey of discovery by the Taoist Fairy of Disenchantment. The mysterious Fairy of Disenchantment resembles the American author Gertrude Stein, The boy is led by the Fairy through life-defining experiences, confronts the inaccessibility of the future, the gulf between words and meaning, and the illusion of love, learning a lesson of detachment that helps author Shi-yin confront his own demons and set pen to page once more.

Rosenblum’s original inspiration for RedDust was the work of Gertrude Stein. The idea was not simply to set Stein’s words but rather to reflect her philosophy of theater and opera as “sight and sound in relation to emotion and time, rather than story and action.” Fragmented narrative threads are therefore the foundation of the piece. The surround-sound audio is pre-recorded and processed text and computer generated sound. Scattered instrumental groups are also panned live through the surround speakers. The video is designed as a live and interactive performance. Video improviser and collaborator Kurt Ralske – who has worked with the Merce Cunningham company and others – designed the software (in the Nato.0+55 language) for real-time improvisation that reacts to live and pre-recorded music, and the live action on stage.