The Music of Jocelyn Morlock

Over the last few years, Jocelyn Morlock’s music has become an audience favourite at the SSO. We’ve been so fortunate to play a number of her works, most recently the March 7th performance of Oisieux Bleu et Sauvages. 

A couple of years ago, we performed her work Solace for string orchestra – it was an instant favourite. So we have been looking for the right time to bring it back. The work centres around the comfort need to regenerate after loss – its beautiful and sweet, warm and inviting.

Born in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Jocelyn Morlock began her musical training under the piano tutelage of Robert Richardson, Sr. After completing her Bachelor of Music in piano performance at Brandon University in 1994, she pursued a master’s degree and a subsequent Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of British Columbia. Studying with the likes of Stephen Chatman, Keith Hamel, and Nikolai Korndorf, she received international acclaim for her 1997 composition “Bird in the Tangled Sky” at the 1999 International Society for Contemporary Music’s World Music Days. 

Her composition “Amore” was written as an imposed work for the 2005 Montreal International Music Competition, and her “Involuntary Love Songs” was composed for the 2008 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. After serving as inaugural Composer-in-Residence for Vancouver’s Music on Main, she became the first female Composer-in-Residence for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (2014-2019). Her tenure as the co-host of the ISCM World New Music Days 2017 was punctuated by her victory at the SOCAN Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award one year later. 

In 2018, Morlock received a JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year for her powerful orchestral composition entitled “My Name Is Amanda Todd”.

Morlock’s music has been defined as “airy but rhythmic, tuneful but complex“ , and takes an eccentric approach to post-modernism. Her compositions are quirky, but always derived from a musical language that is deeply rooted in emotional experience. 

She describes her music as being inspired by “birds, insomnia, nature, fear, other people’s music and art, nocturnal wandering thoughts, lucid dreaming, death, and the liminal times and experiences before and after death.” In each of her compositions, her use of colouristic effects and extended techniques bring her incredibly specific musical vision to life. Her composition for cellist Rachel Mercer and violinist Akemi Mercer-Niewohner can be found on their 2019 album “Our Strength, Our Song”. 

Other recent premieres include “Stone’s Throw” for internationally renowned new music sextet Standing Wave, “Io, Io!” written in celebration of the Vancouver Cantata Singers’ 60th anniversary, and “Serpentine Paths” which celebrates sisterhood and music by Canadian women. 

You can hear Morlock’s Solace as part of our Paris of the Prairies.

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