We’re pleased to bring you all a guest post from 2013 Composer Competition Winner Jocelyn Hagen! To submit for this year’s competition, click HERE.
Composing for The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus was a joy from start to finish. After being chosen as a finalist, I decided to go back through some of my favorite poems that I hadn’t set to music yet, and decided on “Trees Need Not Walk the Earth.” The focus for the program that YNYC had chosen was “music for, about, and by women.” Being a woman I naturally fell into this theme, but I was interested in exploring a quality that is often associated with women: beauty. I loved the opening line of this poem, and what the imagery invoked:
“Trees need not walk the earth for beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them where they stand.”
As a woman, feeling confident and secure in our beauty can often be a struggle, despite how others see us. I resonated with the idea that we realize our own beauty when we discover who we are and what we have to offer the world. And the power to do so lies within us ~ no one else can give it or take it away.
I’ve actually written several pieces in which trees play a character, but this was the first time I was able to add another instrument along with the traditional piano accompaniment for such a piece. I wanted to choose another instrument that had a wooden quality to it, and marimba seemed a natural choice. I had never composed for marimba and piano together before, but I fell in love with the sound at the dress rehearsal. So THANK YOU, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, for letting me explore a new sound world with this composition.
This competition for young composers is simply one of the best of its kind in the country. I highly recommend applying for this opportunity. Michael Kerschner is a wonderful and sensitive conductor who chooses interesting, beautiful and quality literature. And the choir sings with such heart and understanding. I am very proud to say that I have worked with The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, and they gave me a beautiful premiere of “Trees Need Not Walk the Earth.”
Listen to “Trees Need Not Walk The Earth” below!