Shining Brow
Composer: Daron Hagen
Composer Bio: One of America's most respected and prolific full-time composers of concert music and opera, Hagen's music enjoys more than a hundred performances a year. All seven of his operas, Amelia, Shining Brow, Bandanna, Vera of Las Vegas, New York Stories, The Antient Concert and Little Nemo in Slumberland, are currently in production internationally—some under Hagen's stage direction or under his baton. His songs and song cycles are too frequently performed to track.

Hagen's list of commissioners and premiering ensembles is extensive and includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, The National Symphony, The Milwaukee Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, The Albany Symphony, The Seattle Symphony, and The Buffalo Philharmonic. Most recently, Hagen has written concertos for Joel Fan, Gary Graffman, Jeffrey Khaner, Yumi Kurosawa, Michael Ludwig, Sara Sant'Ambrogio, the Amelia Piano Trio, Jaime Laredo, and Sharon Robinson, among others.

Hagen taught himself to read music at the age of 11, began piano lessons at the age of 12, completed his first symphony at 14, conducted his first orchestral première at 16, and at 19 became the youngest composer since Samuel Barber to have a work premièred by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Commissions during his early twenties from the New York Philharmonic and the Kings Singers launched his career before the first of his seven major operas, Shining Brow (1992), garnered international critical and audience acclaim and established him as one of America's most successful and respected opera composers.

He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation (twice), the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, the Barlow Endowment Prize, Opera America, the ASCAP-Nissim Prize, and the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize. In 2010, his Suite for Piano was a commissioned work for the Van Cliburn piano competition, resulting in hundreds of performances of the piece worldwide.

Hagen has been a Featured Composer at festivals including Tanglewood, Wintergreen, and Aspen and currently serves as Artistic Director for the Seasons Music Festival. He has served as Composer-in-residence with the Long Beach Symphony and the Denver Chamber Orchestra. As Artistic and Executive Director of the Perpetuum Mobile Concerts in New York and Philadelphia during the eighties, he presented premieres of over one hundred American composers' works.

Hagen's works have been commercially recorded on the Arsis, Albany, Bleecker Street, Bridge, CRI, Josara, Klavier, Naxos, Mark, Sanctus, Sierra Classical, Troppe Note, and New World record labels. In 2009, Naxos released Shining Brow (Buffalo Philharmonic / Falletta) and the complete Hagen Piano Trios (Finisterra Trio). Bandanna was released on Albany under his baton in 2007; Vera of Las Vegas on the CRI label. Nearly all of Hagen's vocal music is recorded and available commercially. Hagen's music is published by E.C. Schirmer, Carl Fischer, and Burning Sled.

Hagen is a trustee of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera, former president of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, and a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo. He serves frequently as an admissions and grants panelist for numerous national organizations including Opera America, the Copland House, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others.

Hagen is a graduate of Curtis and Juilliard. He served two years on the musical studies faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music; nine years on the composition faculty of Bard College; as a Visiting Professor at the City College of New York; and as a Lecturer in Music at New York University. He has served twice as Composer-in-Residence for the Princeton University Atelier; as Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Conservatory of Music of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, as Franz Lehar Composer-in-Residence at the University of Pittsburgh; as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Sigma-Chi-William P. Huffman Composer-in-Residence at Miami University; and for a year as Artist-in-Residence at Baylor University.

During 2012-13, Hagen's operas will receive new productions and / or premieres in Austin, Chicago, Como (Italy), Lexington, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Sarasota, and Sondrio (Italy). LyricFest (Philadelphia) and Virginia Tech will premiere new song cycles. The Hawaii and Seattle Symphony Orchestras will premiere new works. The Voxare String Quartet will premiere String Quartet No. 3 in Washington and release a CD of Hagen's works on Naxos.

Hagen lives in New York City with his wife, composer / singer / visual artist Gilda Lyons, and his sons Atticus and Seamus.
Librettist: Paul Muldoon
Librettist Bio: Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and educated in Armagh and at the Queen's University of Belfast. From 1973 to 1986 he worked in Belfast as a radio and television producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Since 1987 he has lived in the United States, where he is now Howard G. B. Clark '21 Professor at Princeton University and Chair of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts. In 2007 he was appointed Poetry Editor of The New Yorker. Between 1999 and 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, where he is an honorary Fellow of Hertford College. Paul Muldoon's main collections of poetry are New Weather (1973), Mules (1977), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof (1983), Meeting The British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Annals of Chile (1994), Hay (1998), Poems 1968-1998 (2001), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Horse Latitudes (2006), and Maggot (2010). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Paul Muldoon was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature for 1996. Other recent awards are the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry. He has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War."
Other Artistic Personnel: Roland Johnson (Conductor)
Original Cast: Michael Sokol (Frank Lloyd Wright)
Carolann Page (Mamah Cheney)
Barry Busse (Louis Sullivan)
Kitt Reuter Foss (Catherine Wright)
Bradley Garvin (Edwin Cheney)
Mimmi Fulmer (The Maid)
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: April 21, 1993
Producing Company: Madison Opera
Description: Shining Brow, the translation of the Welsh Taliesin, is the name Wright gave his homes in Wisconsin and Arizona. The period of time covered in Shining Brow includes some of the most tumultuous years of Wright's life, from 1903 to 1914. During the work, the scenes shift from the Cliff Dweller's Club in Chicago, where Wright's discarded mentor, Louis Sullivan, appears, to a construction site in Oak Park, to Berlin, and then to Taliesin, where some of the most tragic events of Wright's life occur. The work portrays Wright's relationship with a client, Mamah Cheney, who leaves her husband, Edwin, for the architect. Their affair is further complicated by the fact that Catherine, Wright's wife, refuses to grant him a divorce. Wright visits Sullivan in Chicago, and it is here that he learns that Taliesin has been destroyed by fire. Mamah has been killed, along with six other victims -- three were hatcheted to death by the madman who set the house on fire, Wright's chef, Julian Carleton. The chef is soon found -- his throat burned from drinking hydrochloric acid. As the opera closes, Wright imagines rebuilding Taliesin in Mamah's memory.
Character List (Major): Frank Lloyd Wright (baritone)
Mamah Cheney (soprano)
Louis Sullivan (tenor)
Edwin Cheney (bass-baritone)
Catherine Wright (mezzo-soprano)
Character List (Minor): Maid / Townswoman (soprano)
Julian Carleton (spoken)
Wife / Townswoman #1 (soprano)
Draftsman / Workman #2 / Reporter #2 (soprano)
Townswoman #2 / Wife (mezzo-soprano)
Reporter #1 / Workman #3 / Workman #5 (tenor)
Waiter / Reporter #3 / Workman #4 (baritone)
Workman #1 / Guest / Photographer / Last Draftsman (bass)
Reviews: Opera, John Koopman, 8-93; Wisconsin State Journal, 5-27-93; The New Yorker, Paul Griffiths, 5-17-93; The Village Voice, Leighton Kerner, 5-11-93; Isthmus (WI), Jess Anderson, 4-30-93; The New York Times, James R. Oestreich, 4-28-93; Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, 4-23-93; Milwaukee Sentinel, Nancy Raabe, 4-23-93; Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma, 4-23-93; The Capital Times (WI), Jay Rath, 4-22-93.
Comments: Librettist:  Paul Muldoon, based on a treatment co-written with Daron Hagen
Length: 03:00
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: Chorus
Orchestration: Large Version (50 players):

Small Version (31 players): (, in players)

Chamber Version (in preparation; 16 players): please contact the composer


Musical Style: Polytonal, use of verbal motifs, colorful orchestration, barbershop quartet, musical quotations and allusions; each main character has his or her own motif, tonal center, and instrumentation. For example: Frank Lloyd Wright is identified by a tritone
Contact: ECS Publishing
Address: 615 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01702
E-mail Address:
Phone: 1-800-777-1919; 617-236-1935
Composer Web Site:
Librettist Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
Schedule of Performances Listings
Shining Brow (Hagen)
Wednesday, July 23, 1997 - Chicago Opera Theater
Shining Brow (Hagen)
Wednesday, April 21, 1993 - Madison Opera
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