It's been nearly three weeks since I returned home from Santa Clara, CA, yet I am still on such a high! I couldn't be more thrilled with the performance of Ashes of Roses by the Santa Clara ChoraleSanta Clara University Choir, and Symphony Silicon Valley. I can't thank conductor Dr. Scot Hanna-Weir enough for bringing this piece to life again, and for giving it a stellar west-coast premiere!

Here is an excerpt from the review in the Santa Clara Weekly:

"Move over Mozart and make room for composer Jocelyn Hagen from Minnesota. Her contemporary 2011 requiem Ashes of Roses had its west coast premiere May 13 at Mission Santa Clara with the full force behind it of the Santa Clara Chorale, the Santa Clara University Choirs and Symphony Silicon Valley.

Chorale Artistic Director Scot Hanna-Weir opened the spring concert with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's traditional and beloved Requiem. Then after intermission, he pulled out all the stops for Hagen's 45-minute work, and the audience loved it.

"I wanted to do a large work by somebody contemporary," said Hanna-Weir, who met Hagen at a conference in February 2015. He took Ashes of Roses home with him, thinking, "This could be something special." And it was.

Hagen's requiem, with seven movements for soloists, chorus and orchestra, was full of surprises. The text incorporates Elaine Goodale Eastman's poem "Ashes of Roses," written in English, with the traditional Latin text of the Roman Catholic mass for the dead.

As Hanna-Weir wrote in the program notes, the requiem reflects Hagen's "holistic appreciation for music from Gregorian chant to pop," and the work "oscillates between the old world and the new....[ending] triumphantly, gloriously lifting up the final 'Dona Eis Requiem' and creating a transcendent moment full of hope and promise."

In fact, Hagen's requiem was so up lifting that the audience jumped to their feet instantly after the finale, clapping long and loudly.

Hagen could have been a rock star instead of a classical composer. People crowded around her, offering their congratulations and blocking the aisle. They interrupted her conversations to have their picture taken with her. Members of the Chorale sought her autograph.

"It's incredible. This is such a high. This music mostly lives in my head and to hear it live is thrilling," said Hagen. "I'm so honored that Scot brought it to life."

"It was a joyful celebration of life," said Cathy Fisher from Los Gatos. "I loved the joy of it!"

For the choirs and orchestra, performing Hagen's Ashes of Roses was a musical challenge well met.

"It exceeded my expectations. I was much more moved than I expected I would be, even as I was conducting," said Hanna-Weir.

The audience was excited to discover, thanks to the Chorale's risk-taking young artistic director, a talented young composer and welcome her to the elite corps of requiem composers. This is not to take a long-esteemed friend like Mozart for granted. Rather, it was to welcome, embrace, and look forward to meeting again a new friend."

By: Diane Andrews