CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–October 29, 2015. Roosevelt University student composer Heidi Joosten, who is a native of Cameron, Wis., will premiere her first opera, Connla and the Fairy Maiden, on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in downtown Chicago during Roosevelt’s annual OperaFest celebration.
A rising young talent in music composition, Joosten graduated from Cameron High School in 2009 and received a bachelor’s degree in music composition from the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire in 2013.
Since then, she has made strides as a promising composer. Joosten began writing Connla and the Fairy Maiden when she was a first-year Master’s in Music Composition student at Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA). She is currently in her second and final year of the degree program, and will graduate from Roosevelt in May 2016.
Competitively selected for staging during OperaFest VIII by CCPA’s Voice Performance and Composition programs, Joosten’s opera is a contemporary retelling of an old Irish fairy tale. For the piece, Joosten changed the gender of the main character from male to female, diminishing the classic love story and turning it into a tale of female empowerment.
“My opera has a universal theme that can appeal to all ages and backgrounds,” said Joosten, who began playing piano and harp as a child, and eventually took up studies in voice, oboe, organ, jazz piano, saxophone, mallet percussion and guitar. She began composing music at 18 years of age.
“Heidi is a gifted composer who has written an impressive body of music in the past three semesters,” said Stacy Garrop, associate professor of music composition at Roosevelt, and one of Joosten’s mentors and instructors. “The opera she has written wonderfully demonstrates her potential as a lyrical dramatic composer. I am looking forward to following Heidi’s career after she graduates.”
The first student composer chosen to participate in Roosevelt’s new OperaLab initiative, which annually gives a Roosevelt student the opportunity to compose an opera that is then showcased by Roosevelt student singers during OperaFest in Chicago, Joosten also has been making a name of late as a rising talent in her home state.
Currently, the Roosevelt music composition student is the composer in residence for the Platteville Public Schools’ sixth through 12th grade choirs, which will premiere Joosten’s The Strange Night, on Oct. 26. Funded by the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Platteville Community Fund, the piece is inspired by a local mystery from the 1880s known as the “Nodolf Incident,” in which a German farmer and his wife discover their children outside at night during a driving storm.
Drawing from the same traditional Latin text that composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck used, Joosten also has written an original composition of Gaudete Omnes, which will be performed Nov. 16 at Cameron High School by the Lakeland All Conference Honors Choir under the direction of Frank Watkins, a conductor at the University of Wisconsin.
“Roosevelt’s composition program has given me an opportunity to hone my skills as a music composer. One of the perks of the program has been its emphasis on composing in competitions, which gave me the impetus in the first place to write my first opera,” she said.
While her composition career is still in its early stage, Joosten already has written for choir, band and orchestra, chamber orchestra, voice, piano and musical theatre. The composer said she hopes to build upon her recent opera-composing experience by continuing to write music for the stage after she graduates.
“Thanks to my Roosevelt experience, I’m becoming more and more drawn to telling stories for the stage,” said Joosten, whose blog on composing is available at www.heidijoosten.com/blog. For more information on Roosevelt University’s OperaFest, visit www.roosevelt.edu/ccpa or call 312-341-2238.