Daron Hagen is a prolific composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music for the concert hall and stage. He is also a stage director, conductor, librettist, essayist, clinician, and collaborative pianist. Described as a “composer born to write operas” (Chicago Tribune) whose music is “dazzling, unsettling, exuberant, and heroic” (The New Yorker), his opera Amelia was described as “one of the 20 best operas of the 21st century” by Opera News.
He has been commissioned by such renowned organizations as the American Composers Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Curtis Institute of Music, Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and the Sarasota and Seattle Operas, and his work has been championed by such world-renowned conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Leon Botstein, Michael Christie, John DeMain, JoAnn Falletta, Lukas Foss, Kelly Kuo, Joseph Mechavich, Michael Morgan, Kenneth Schermerhorn, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, and Robert Spano.
Hagen is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Academy Award (2015) and the Charles Ives Fellowship (1983) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Guggenheim Prize; the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize; the Columbia University Bearns Prize; the ASCAP-Nissim Prize, and both the ASCAP Samuel Barber and Irving Berlin Scholarships; two Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residencies; the Camargo Foundation Residency; the Barlow Endowment Prize & Commission: the Gelin Tanglewood Fellowship; and development awards from ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mellon Foundation, the Readers Digest Fund, and Opera America.
Recent highlights include his own productions of A Woman in Morocco for Kentucky Opera, and I Hear America Singing for the Skylight Music Theater; Symphony No. 5 for the Phoenix Symphony. He is currently developing Orson Rehearsed, a broadly elastic, multi-media musico-dramatic "prestidigitation" featuring Fifth House Ensemble and the New Mercury Collective at the Chicago College of Performing Arts; and The Art of Song, an evening-long song-cycle for four singers and piano co-commissioned by Philadelphia's Lyric Fest and the Brooklyn Art Song Society.
Hagen is a passionate teacher whose masterclasses in vocal performance, composition, and acting are universally-admired for their exhilarating combination of unpretentious practical advice, commitment to social activism through art, and resolute eschewing of orthodoxies. He taught for a decade at Bard College, and served on the faculties of the Curtis Institute, New York University, and the Princeton Atelier, among others. He has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Princeton Atelier, Miami University, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the University of Pittsburgh, Baylor University, and as Composer-in-Residence for the Ohio Opera Theater and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. Hagen is currently a member of the Artist Faculty of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts and chairs the composition program at the Wintergreen Music Festival.
Hagen has served as president of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, for five years as artistic director and chair of faculty for the Seasons Music Festival, as a board member (CRI, Joy in Singing), as a trustee (Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera), and is a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo. Formerly a Composer Mentor for American Opera Projects, he is currently a Distinguished Mentor for Composers Now and founding artistic director of the New Mercury Collective.
Born in Wisconsin, Hagen studied composition with Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute and David Diamond at the Juilliard School, then worked privately with Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss. During the 80s=90s, he was a copyist and editor for numerous concert composers and Broadway shows, including Elliot Carter, Virgil Thomson, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Disney. His music is recorded on Naxos, Sony Classical, Albany, CRI, and Bridge, among others. A Manhattanite for 28 years, he and his wife, composer Gilda Lyons, moved Upstate in 2011 to raise their sons.
He is managed by Scott Levine as a stage director; and his music is published by Peermusic Classical, Burning Sled, Carl Fischer, and E.C. Schirmer.
This biography may be reprinted in programs.