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UNT Insider | July 2010 Issue | Moby-Dick composer Jake Heggie to be UNT artist-in-residence

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Moby-Dick composer Jake Heggie to be UNT artist-in-residence

From a UNT News Service press release

Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie, composer of the nationally acclaimed opera Moby-Dick that premiered at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in Dallas, will serve as the artist-in-residence for UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts for the 2010-11 academic year.

During his residency, Heggie will work on a commission from UNT to compose a major work for orchestra, chorus and soloists to further explore his interest in Moby-Dick. The UNT Symphony Orchestra and the UNT Grand Chorus will premiere the composition, which has a working title of Ahab Symphony, on April 25, 2012, on campus. Internationally renowned tenor Richard Croft, professor of music, is slated to perform in the role of Ahab.

In addition, Heggie will coach composition and voice students and participate in other campus activities during his residency, which will take place from Oct. 23, 2010 to Nov. 21, 2010 and Feb. 14, 2011 to Feb. 28, 2011.

"I am deeply honored and overjoyed to be UNT's artist-in-residence this coming year and to create a new work especially for the university's extraordinary music department," Heggie says. "Education is every bit as important to me as composition and I look forward to many rewarding interactions with students and faculty during my time on campus. It seems appropriate, too, to further explore the literary and musical world of Melville's Moby-Dick in an academic environment that encourages dialogue, reflection and bold vision. I'm grateful for this rare opportunity and I can't wait to get started."

Also during the residency, College of Music faculty members and graduate students will present a concert of Heggie's non-opera music in early November 2010, with Heggie playing the piano for at least one work. The performance is slated as part of a series of inaugural concerts in UNT's newly renovated Concert Hall in the Music Building.

"One of the great legacies of Wendy Wilkins' time here as provost is her initiative for the Institute for the Advancement of the Arts — a joint venture of academic affairs and the research office — and it is only through this funding that we are able to take the national stage in commissioning new music by one of today's most celebrated American composers," says James Scott, dean of the College of Music.

"In addition to the commission, we will have the benefit of his interactions in many different settings with faculty and students from a variety of fields," Scott says. "Mr. Heggie visited our campus and met with our composition students this spring while he was in Dallas preparing for Moby-Dick. During that visit, we learned what an inspiration his presence is and we look forward to a much enriched year as a result of his extended residency with us."

About Jake Heggie
Heggie is the composer of the internationally acclaimed operas Moby-Dick, Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers, The End of the Affair and more than 200 art songs and orchestral and chamber music. Dead Man Walking has been one of the most performed of new American operas with nearly 150 performances on five continents since its premiere in October 2000. As a pianist and composer, he collaborates with many of the world's great singers, including Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Joyce DiDonato, Audra McDonald, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ben Heppner, Stephen Costello and Bryn Terfel. His upcoming commissions are from UNT, Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Performances and the John Alexander Singers. Heggie lives in San Francisco.

About the Institute for the Advancement of the Arts
Designed to support accomplished professionals in the visual, performing and creative literary arts, the Institute for the Advancement of the Arts provides recognition for artistic contributions and an opportunity to share those contributions with the public. Each year, two to four faculty fellows are selected by a review of projects. In addition, the institute hosts an artist-in-residence — the first of whom was Oscar-nominated screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga in the 2009-10 academic year.

The Institute for the Advancement of the Arts began operations in fall 2009 under the oversight of a steering committee composed of the dean of the College of Music, the dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, associate vice president for research and the director of the Institute for the Advancement of the Arts.

The institute is jointly supported by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Office of Research and Economic Development

Ellen Rossetti with UNT News Service can be reached at

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July 2010

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