Local composer Jocelyn Morlock named VSO's next composer-in-residence

Friday the 13th turned out to be a good luck day for freelance musician/composer Jocelyn Morlock. 

New Vancouver Symphony Composer-in-Residence, Jocelyn Morlock

Friday the 13th turned out to be a good luck day for freelance musician/composer Jocelyn Morlock. When she checked Twitter that morning, the news had already been leaked by Maestro Bramwell Tovey himself. She’d won the appointment as next Composer-in-Residence with The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro tweets

When I asked her how this new appointment to Western Canada’s largest orchestra felt she joked, “My brain is self caffeinating”.

Timing’s everything

What’s involved in obtaining that coveted tweet from the Maestro was a mystery to me, so I asked Jocelyn to describe landing such a rarefied job. “It’s like applying for a normal job”, she said matter-of-factly implying that, as a freelance musician, she knew what a normal job was. I probed deeper and found out that, like most jobs, you do in fact submit an application and then you’re judged, dissected, and ranked until a winner is chosen.

According to Jocelyn, “It was good timing”. This year she had a major work for orchestra, Aeromancy, performed on the VSO’s New Music Festival series. Her CD, Cobalt, was nominated for two Western Canadian Music Awards with the whole CD being nominated for “Classical Recording of the Year”. The VSO recording of Oiseaux Bleus et Sauvages with Bramwell Tovey conducting was nominated for “Classical Composition of the Year”.

Jocelyn Morlock's new CD: Cobalt. Click album to listen to an excerpt from 'Oiseaux Bleus et Sauvages'.

Also, she’s just completed two stellar years as Composer-in-Residence with Music on Main. Reflecting on that experience Jocelyn said, "David Pay and Music on Main are a vital innovative force”, adding, “It's been wonderful to work with them over the past two years".

A first among firsts

While Jocelyn is not the first Vancouver resident to become the Symphony's Composer-in-Residence, she's the first woman. When I mentioned that the Symphony had hired locally, she laughed, “I’m part of the hundred-mile diet I guess”. Like so many Vancouverites, Jocelyn isn’t actually native born (she’s from Manitoba), but she's been living in Vancouver about 18 years since she first came here to complete her Masters and then Doctorate in Composition at UBC (where she studied with Russian-Canadian composer Nikolai Korndorf).

Although the Twitter waves lit up in April following a CBC story exposing the gender gap among Canada’s orchestra conductors and soloists, women composers (at least recently) have been well represented. My questions in this area were less politically motivated and more to discover how the creative process is affected for a composer who happens also to be female. Jocelyn brushed aside my inquires with characteristic humour, “As far as the creative process goes all composers are so weird, but I don't know if or how gender would affect that. I’m personally affected more by insomnia”.

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