En Vogue. Kylie Minogue. Rosie & the Riveters. Quince Ensemble, featuring Ohio Wesleyan University’s Jennifer Jolley.
All of these artists are dropping new albums April 6 – with vocal quartet Quince Ensemble’s record “Motherland” featuring a 25-minute song cycle composed by Jolley, an OWU associate professor of music.
Titled “Prisoner of Conscience,” Jolley’s composition was inspired by the Russian band Pussy Riot. The female musicians made headlines in 2012 when they performed inside a church, without permission, a song titled “Mother of God, Drive Putin Away.” Two band members later were imprisoned for two years, with Amnesty International proclaiming them to be “prisoners of conscience.”
“Three years after the events in question, I wrote a song cycle about the arrest and trial of members of Pussy Riot,” Jolley says. “Even as I did so, it seemed both ill-timed and too late. …
“Now that we live in a time where there are rumors of Russia meddling with U.S. elections and the White House is doling out Fake News Awards, the piece is surprisingly relevant again. I never thought it would be, nor did I want it to be.
“Maybe my initial timing was off in creating this piece,” Jolley continues, “but what I do know is this – we creators have been tasked with creating art. And if we creators are present and attuned to what is happening, we as global citizens will speak up via our music for what is right and just. If you are waiting for the right moment, the right moment is now.”
“Prisoner of Conscience” was commissioned by Quince Ensemble, the Chicago-based quartet that performs the song. The a cappella ensemble specializes in experimental repertoire and has been praised by critics as “a new force of vocal excellence and innovation.”
Jolley, who joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in 2012, created “Prisoner of Conscience” in collaboration with librettist (lyricist) Kendall A of Cincinnati. The composition – a former finalist in The American Prize in Composition – Choral competition, professional division – was first performed by Quince in 2015.
Jolley’s diverse catalog includes choral, orchestral, wind ensemble, chamber, and electronic works. In addition to her composition for Quince Ensemble, Jolley has been commissioned by band and institutions across the United States, including the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, University of Texas at Austin, Bowling Green State University, The Canales Project, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and the University of Cincinnati.
Jolley earned both her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. At Ohio Wesleyan, she teaches music composition, theory, orchestration, and electronic music.
Learn more about Quince Ensemble and “Motherland” at www.quince-ensemble.com. Learn more about Jolley at www.jenniferjolley.com and more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Music at www.owu.edu/music.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.