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The Composer — Jocelyn Morlock


“I’m not taking away the cellos for electric guitars.”

“I wanted to be a scuba diver, an astronaut, some- thing adventurous,” says Jocelyn Morlock of her childhood in Winnipeg. She might have dreamed of becoming a renowned, award-winning composer had she realized the career path was available to her, centuries after powdered wigs were in vogue. “I started playing piano when I was eight and would make things up. But I didn’t know any composers were alive. I saw that movie Amadeus and fell in love with classical music.”

Morlock studied piano performance at Brandon University but switched to composition after developing tendonitis in her hands. Recharting her course, she earned her master’s and doctorate from UBC’s School of Music.

“I’d rather be in the audience than on the stage.” Her favourite part of composing? “Taking an audi- ence on some kind of emotional journey,” she says without hesitation.

Now Composer-in-Residence for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Morlock creates works for full orchestra, unexpected combinations of instru- ments, and even solo instruments. Among her career highlights, the National Arts Centre Orchestra performed her composition My Name is Amanda Todd as part of the Canada 150 multimedia commission, Life Reflected.

Composing for dancers is a special delight for Morlock: “They tell you what kind of movement they want to do. You write it. Then, they test drive it. It’s almost as if the music is in black and white, and when the dancers start moving to it, now it’s in colour.” And, true to the spirit of adventure that gripped her as a child, she’s even experimented with electronic music. Still, her love of classical music is closest to her heart: “I’m not taking away the cellos for electric guitars.” Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 10.17.41 AM


Jerry Wasserman is an actor, critic, emeritus
professor of English and theatre at UBC, and
editor of Modern Canadian Plays. He is editor
and producer of