Test Pilot: a dance opera Test Pilot blog reviews

We are choreographer Penelope Freeh and composer Jocelyn Hagen. We create hybrid dance/music pieces that illuminate each other’s work, challenge performers and expand expectations of the relationship between these mediums. Our landmark collaboration Slippery Fish and other offerings of New Music and Dance (performed at the Southern Theater September 28-30, 2012) pushed our personal boundaries of how new performance is created, rehearsed and executed. Slippery Fish was hailed as "...completely original in all respects" by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Penelope Freeh and Jocelyn HagenPenelope Freeh (co-creator, choreographer, dancer) is a contemporary ballet dancer and choreographer. She creates works that explore the ballet idiom even as they diverge from it. She is a McKnight Fellow for Choreographers and SAGE awardee for Outstanding Performer. Her work is in the repertoires of James Sewell Ballet and Minnesota Ballet among others. Penelope danced for James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007 – 11. She teaches at the University of MN and Zenon Dance School.

hagenJocelyn Hagen (co-creator, composer) (b.1980), a native of Valley City, North Dakota, composes music that has been described as “dramatic and deeply moving” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul). Her first forays into composition were via songwriting, and this is very evident in her work. The majority of her compositional output is for voice: solo, chamber and choral. She is a 2-time winner of prestigious McKnight Fellowships (in 2010 and 2014) and her music is heard around the world. Her recent 65-minute oratorio entitled amass, for mixed choir and chamber ensemble, received its New York premiere at Lincoln Center in March of 2014.

Jocelyn holds degrees in Theory, Composition, and Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College, as well as a Masters degree in Composition from the University of Minnesota. Her training also includes summer study at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, where she studied with Philip Lasser of the Juilliard School of Music. Other former teachers include Judith Lang Zaimont, Peter Hamlin, David Maslanka, Mary Ellen Childs, and Timothy Mahr.

As a performer, Jocelyn began piano lessons at the age of three and became a professional accompanist by the age of 15. In 2000 she won first place in the Klatzkin Contemporary Keyboard Competition at Arizona State University (Alexina Louie, "Music for Piano"), and in 2003 soloed with the St. Olaf Orchestra (Francis Poulenc, "Piano Concerto, first movement"). For several years she specialized in the performance of 20th and 21st century art song, performing and touring with soprano Jennifer Kult as the Linden Duo. Currently she is performing from her new EP titled "MASHUP," which is available on iTunes.

Jocelyn has received grants and awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, Minnesota Music Educators Association, the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, VocalEssence, the Yale Glee Club, the Lotte Lehman Foundation, the Sorel Medallion Competition, the Cincinnati Camerata, the University of Minnesota, and the San Francisco Song Festival. Her commissions include the American Choral Directors Association, the North Dakota Music Teacher’s Association, The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, Trio Callisto, the Murasaki Duo, Cantus, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the St. Olaf Band, NDSU Gold StarBand, the ND Army Band, and the Copper Street Brass Quintet. Her music is available through her website, independently published, as well as through Graphite Publishing, Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Boosey and Hawkes.