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Composers Meet Whitman

Composers Meet Whitman

Composers Meet Whitman
Saturday, February 26th, 2022 on Zoom
7:00 – 8:30PM EST

WWBA presents “Composers Meet Whitman,” a virtual discussion featuring the works of composer, writer, and filmmaker Daron Hagen, who discusses works by a variety of composers based on Whitman’s verse; Filmmaker H. Paul Moon, and WWBA Music Collection Archivist George Mallis join the conversation.
This event is sponsored by The Joel Foundation.


Suggested $5 donation:

Daron Hagen is an American composer, writer, and filmmaker. He is the creator of operas, five symphonies, twelve concertos, dozens of instrumental works, film scores, and over 350 art songs and cycles.  Commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Opera, and National Symphony highlight a catalogue spanning over forty years and performed internationally.

Presently garnering laurels at film festivals worldwide, his visionary operafilm Orson Rehearsed may be seen on major streaming platforms. He is currently in production for his second operafilm, 9/10 at Roosevelt University and made possible in part by a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

Hagen’s critically-acclaimed memoir, Duet With the Past, was published in 2019 by McFarland. As a stage director, he has mounted new productions of his own works for the Kentucky Opera, Skylight Music Theater, and the Buffalo Philharmonic, among others. As a conductor he has led world premiere recordings of several of his operas; he has appeared on three discs as a collaborative pianist for his art songs. In 2017, he founded the New Mercury Collective, a group of creative performing artists with whom he develops and produces his new theatrical and film projects. Hagen’s music is recorded on over ten music labels. His early mentors included Leonard Bernstein, David Diamond, Lukas Foss, and Ned Rorem. A Manhattanite for 28 years, he and his wife, composer, vocalist, and professor Gilda Lyons, moved Upstate in 2011 to raise their sons.

H. Paul Moon ( is a filmmaker, professor and attorney based in New York City and Washington, D.C. whose work concentrates on the performing arts. Major works include “Sitka: A Piano Documentary” ( about the craftsmanship of Steinway pianos, and “Quartet for the End of Time” ( about Olivier Messiaen’s transcendent WWII composition. Moon’s first feature, an acclaimed and award-winning documentary about the life and music of American composer Samuel Barber (, premiered on PBS, and he is currently finishing another documentary feature about Western poetry ( His ongoing bicentennial multimedia works on poet Walt Whitman are featured at, culminating in “Facing West” that premiered at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. Moon’s latest feature film is an operatic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (, awarded “Critic’s Choice” by Opera News as a “thoroughly enjoyable film version, insightfully conceived and directed” with “first-rate and remarkably illustrative storytelling.”

George Mallis is actively engaged in Long Island’s vibrant art scene, as both a dedicated member of varied art councils and leagues, and as a featured artist in gallery exhibitions at the Nassau County Museum of Art, the Heckscher Museum, Ashawagh Hall, the Image Gallery of Riverhead and the Nexus Gallery of New York.  Mallis’ works has received numerous awards, including an Achievement Award from the International Ph

otographic Council of the United Nations. His work has been published in Photographic Magazine. Additionally, he was an image contributor with the digital photography handbook series published by AVA SASwitzerland. Over the years, George Mallis has served as consultant and digital photographer for the major exhibit renovation at the Walt Whitman Birthplace New York State Historic Site. His iconic photo of the Whitman Birthplace with lilacs in bloom is often used to represent the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, the organization that operates the site.  As a teacher,  Mallis leads presentation on photography and digital arts, teaching Adobe Photoshop courses and workshops for continuing education programs and art organizations. His works can be found in the private collection of Former President Gerald R. Ford, best-selling authors Susan Isaacs and Nelson DeMille, and Opera Diva Lucine Amara.

Gilda Lyons, composer, vocalist, and visual artist, combines elements of renaissance, neo-baroque, spectral, folk, agitprop Music Theater, and extended vocalism to create works of uncompromising emotional honesty and melodic beauty. The premiere of A New Kind of Fallout—Lyons’ mainstage opera inspired by the life and work of environmentalist Rachel Carson, written with librettist Tammy Ryan, and commissioned by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh—was described as “powerfully effective” (Pittsburgh Stage Magazine), “haunting” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and “spot-on at re-creating the atmosphere of the early ’60s” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).

As composer and vocalist Lyons’ works and performances are available on the Clarion, GPR, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, Roven Records, and Yarlung Records labels. Laura Strickling’s Grammy-nominated 2021 release of Lyons’ Songs of Lament and Praise (Yarlung) was described by Opera News as “plaintive… florid… quietly devastating.” Other recent recording projects as composer include the release of Lyons’ works by Quince (Motherland); and entelechron (The Folk Tune Project); Lindsey Goodman’s tour de force performance of Lyons’ Chrysalis (reach through the sky); and Sing for Hope’s release of Lyons’ Hold On (An AIDS Quilt Songbook).
Current projects as composer include new works for soprano Caitlin Lynch, Lyric Fest, Musica Viva NY, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Quince, Wintergreen Music Festival, soprano Laura Strickling, and pianist Nic Gerpe. Recent premieres include Lyons’ to know about space, commissioned by Trio Triumphatrix, presented on Voices of Ascension’s ‘Voices of the New’ series; and Sourdough: Rise Up, a chamber opera commissioned by Resonance Works Pittsburgh released on Decameron Opera Coalition’s ‘Tales from a Safe Distance.’ Recent projects include performances by Quince on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series, curated by Missy Mazzoli; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek on the Locrian Chamber Players series; Mirror Visions Ensemble on the Bargemusic Masterworks series; and Chautauqua Opera; Chautauqua Symphony, Stuart Chafetz, conductor.