Daron Hagen, composer

In 2001, I premiered Daron Hagen’s Quintet for Oboe and Strings at the IDRS Conference in West Virginia. I was privileged to be a part of the birth of a new composition, and especially one as beautiful as this. Attached is a video of the Quintet’s lyrical second movement, which is a tribute to birth and renewal. Written shortly after the birth of Daron’s son, here’s how the composer describes it:

“The second movement, Cradle Song, celebrates the future. It begins with an oboe solo that represents a mother singing to her infant. The strings join the soloist for a tender, straightforward song.”

Composers have many children, and the process of gestation and birth can often be painful. Therefore it is important for living performers to share these “children” of contemporary composers with audiences of today and the future. For me this sharing is a key element towards the renewal of the classical tradition. It is our means towards making classical music relevant among today’s chaos of musical styles.

Last spring, when I recorded this work, I asked the Daron Hagen a couple of questions about composing and here are his responses:

SC: Why do you like writing for the oboe?

DH: I like writing for the oboe (using vocal terminology that I find supremely appropriate to the “singing” oboe) because it has all the tonal “slice” of a fine english-language mezzo-soprano, plus the clarion brilliance of a traditional spinto (without the heaviness of a coloratura).

SC: You’re a composer with a large catalogue of opera and song repertoire. Does the storytelling that’s so much a part of that repertoire influence in any way how you approach composing purely instrumental works?

DH: As a composer I follow musical ideas wherever they want to go—sometimes musical ideas that might seem at first more idiomatic for a singer and therefore harder to find a way to manifest in an instrument end up being fresher than ones conceived instrumentally, and vice versa. I’m always looking for a way to “connect” with the audience using familiar (even clichéd) gestures and emotions that they can easily relate to in order to disarm them so that I can then lead them down the rabbit hole to new sounds and feelings.

Listen to “Cradle Song” by clicking this link:

To find out more about the Daron Hagen’s Quintet, and to order the music, click this link: