Heggie, Jake (actually John Stephen)
Heggie, Jake (actually John Stephen)
Heggie, Jake (actually John Stephen), promising American pianist and composer; b. West Palm Beach, Fla., March 31, 1961. He was reared in primarily in Ohio and Calif. His father was a jazz pianist, and Jake began piano lessons at an early age. He began composing at the age of 11, shortly after his father’s suicide in 1972. His first serious composition teacher was Ernst Bacon, with whom he studied privately in Orinda, Calif, from 1977 to 1979, and his first serious compositional efforts were settings of the poetry of Emily Dickinson. He traveled to Paris in 1979 for studies at the American Coll. (A.A., 1981) and also privately with Helene Mouzalas. In 1981 he returned to Calif, and studied with Johana Harris at the Univ. of Calif, at Los Angeles (B.A., 1984); he also studied there with Paul Des Marais, Roger Bourland, David Raksin, and Paul Reale (1987–89). Heggie and Harris were married on Dec. 18, 1982, when he was 21 and she was 69. They toured together for several years and Heggie began developing a compositional style, mostly writing chamber music and songs. However, in 1989 he developed a repetitive stress problem in his right hand and was forced to stop performing. He found work running a private performing arts series in Los Angeles and eventually became a writer in the public relations dept. at the Univ. of Calif, at Los Angeles’s Performing Arts. Having separated from Harris, in 1993 Heggie moved to San Francisco, working first at Cal Performances at the Univ. of Calif, at Berkeley and then at the San Francisco Opera, as the company’s staff writer (1994–97). He met many important singers of the day, including Frederica von Stade, who began to champion his work. Having regained the use of his right hand, he also began performing once again. Von Stade engaged him as her accompanist, as did many younger singers, and Heggie began to write songs which were included in their international recitals. In 1995 he was one of 8 winners of the G. Schirmer American Art Song competition, and in 1996 Jennifer Larmore recorded 5 of his songs on her American song CD, “My Native Land/’ In 1998 Heggie became the first composer-in-residence of the San Francisco Opera and received a commission for his first opera, Dead Man Walking, to a libretto by Terrence McNally, based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean. In 1999 11 singers gathered to make a recording of 26 of Heggie’s songs; at the same time, G. Schirmer published 50 of Heggie’s songs. In May 2000, von Stade and others performed full evenings of Heggie’s songs at N.Y.’s Alice Tully Hall and San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre. Heggie has been commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera to compose his second opera, based on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, for a 2003 premiere. He also wrote a 10-minute operatic scene for N.Y/s EOS Orchestra, Again, a satirical spoof on the relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez as depicted on the popular television program, “I Love Lucy.” Current works in progress include a song cycle for baritone and orchestra for Thomas Hampson as well as a full evening program of songs and text for 3 opera singers based on a new play by Terrence McNally.
dramatic: Opera: Dead Man Walking, after Terrence McNally (1998–2000); Again, operatic scene in 10 minutes, after Kevin Gregory (2000). CHAMBER: “Lugalla” string quartet (1984); “Glengariff,” trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1985); Variations from “Martha and Mary” for Violin and Piano (1986); Lullabye for Violin and Piano (1987); One Day at the Duck Pond for Strings, Winds, Guitar, Piano, and Percussion (1987); Echo for Strings and Winds with Piano, score for a short animated film by S. Silver (1989); Prelude and Aria for Clarinet and Piano (1990); Iris for Strings and Flute, score for a short film by B. Starkie with dancer Iris Pell (1991); Coward/Cabaret for Cello and Piano, after songs by Noel Coward (1996). piano:Indiana Bound (1982); Inishfallen (1983); Shrovetide (1984); Innis-free for 2 Pianos (1985); Skellig Variations for 2 Pianos (1986); Isadora’s Dress, score for a short film by B. Starkie, in tribute to Isadora Duncan (1988); Divertimento for 2 Pianos (1990); Christmas Nocturnes (1991); Homage a Poulenc (1992). VOCAL: Fates of Flesh and Stone for Tenor, Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano (1984); Before the Storm for Mezzo-soprano, Cello, and Piano (1986; rev. 1998); Three Shropshire Songs of A. E. Housman for Tenor, Bassoon or Cello, and Piano (1986); Three Songs of Foreboding for Soprano, Bassoon, and Piano (1986); Faith Disquiet for Chorus, after Dickinson (1987); In Love and Despair for Baritone, String Quartet, and Piano, after Dickinson and Housman (1987); To Say Before Going to Sleep for Mezzo-soprano and Piano, after Rilke (1988); Trois Poèmes Intérieurs de Rainer Maria Rilke for Baritone and Piano (1988); White in the Moon for Mezzo-soprano and Piano, after Housman (1990); A Wreath of Carols for Men’s Chorus and Piano (1992); Three Folk Songs for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1994; also for Mezzo-soprano, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano, and for Orch.); As well as Jesus? At last, to be identified! for Soprano and Piano, after Dickinson (1995); Encountertenor for Countertenor and Piano or Fortepi-ano (1995); I shall not live in vain for Soprano and Piano, after Dickinson (1995; also for Mezzo-soprano, Girl’s Chorus, Handbells, and Piano, 1998); Eve- Song for Soprano and Piano (1996); My True Love Hath My Heart for Soprano, Cello, and Piano (1996; also for Soprano and Piano, and for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Cello, and Piano); On the Road to Christmas for Mezzo- soprano and String Orch. (1996); Thoughts Unspoken for Baritone and Piano (1996); “Why do I love” You, Sir? for Mezzo-soprano and Piano, afer Dickinson (1996); Natural Selection for Soprano and Piano (1997); Paper Wings for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1997; also for Mezzo- soprano and Orch., 1999); So Many Notes! for 11 Singers and Orch. (1997); Everyone Sang for Baritone and Piano (1998); From Emily’s Garden for Soprano and Piano or with Flute, Violin Cello, and Piano (1998); Of Gods and Cats for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1998); Patterns for Mezzo-soprano, Women’s Chorus, and Piano (1998); Songs to the Moon, Part 1: “Fairy-Tales for the Children” for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1998); Sophie’s Song for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1998); Anna Madrigal Remembers for Mezzo-soprano and 12 Men’s Voices, after A. Maupin (1999); Ample make this bed and The sun kept setting for Soprano and Piano, after Dickinson (1999); Songs and Sonnets to Ophelia for Soprano and Piano (1999). OTHER: Various arrangements.
—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire