Jayce Ogren, a Hoquiam native who is quickly developing a reputation as one of the country’s finest young conductors, was named music director of the New York City Opera last month.
“We’re delighted, he’s living his dream,” his father, John Ogren, said, speaking for himself and his wife, Lynn. “He’s been conducting in front of a mirror since he was about 14.”
Ogren has earned praise for his energy and intelligence in interpreting challenging compositions and for drawing rich performances from the musicians he works with.
“The New [York] City Opera is blessed by a crack ensemble under the alert direction of Jayce Ogren,” read a Feb. 26 review in “Musical America.”
“He’s very excited. He’s been doing opera now for a while, and he’s done several operas with the New York City Opera, and he really likes the people who work for the opera, he’s gotten to know them really well,” John Ogren said.
Jayce Ogren, 34, is a former Fulbright Scholar who studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. He earned his bachelor’s degree in composition from St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 2001, and his master’s in conducting from the New England Conservatory in 2003.
He earlier completed a stint as assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Youth Orchestra.
Ogren is also a composer whose works have been performed in venues including the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music and the World Saxophone Congress. A band he founded, Young Kreisler, performs his compositions as well as music ranging from Gustav Maler to Kurt Cobain.
His father said Ogren will still have time for the guest engagements that have taken him around the world, and with the opera company he’ll help select the operas to be performed, conduct two of the four per season as well as give input on casting.
He will conduct at least two performances per year with the opera company.
He drew praise for his first effort with the New York City Opera.
“Jayce Ogren, a young American conductor who recently completed a stint as an assistant at the Cleveland Orchestra, had an impressive City Opera debut, drawing a pulsing, sensitive and brilliant account of this stylistically far-ranging score from the orchestra,” reviewer Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times in 2010.
He conducted two operas for the company in 2012 and will conduct two more this year.
The operas culminate a 2012-13 season with several significant New York City appearances: He debuted with the New York Philharmonic; debuted with the Mostly Mozart Festival leading the groundbreaking International Contemporary Ensemble; joined New York City Ballet for an all-Stravinsky program; and led CONTACT! concerts at Symphony Space and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the summer of 2012 Ogren led performances of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at the Verbier Festival Academy and conducted the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in performing Bernstein’s West Side Story at the Royal Albert Hall, accompanying a 50th anniversary screening of the film.
Other recent U.S. engagements include dates with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Juilliard Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the New World Symphony and the Grand Rapids Symphony.
European guest engagements have included the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, repeat appearances with the Asturias Symphony, regional opera companies and orchestras throughout Scandinavia.
As a composer, Ogren’s works have been premiered at venues including the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music, the Brevard Music Center, the American Choral Directors Association Conference, and the World Saxophone Congress. His Symphonies of Gaia has been performed by ensembles on three continents and serves as the title track on a DVD featuring the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra.
“He’s not only a talented guy, he’s just a wonderful son, We’re very proud of him,” John Ogren said.