Rockford native composer Jake Runestad gaining national attention

Jake Runestad
Jake Runestad

Staff Report

Washington National Opera has commissioned a new opera from Jake Runestad and librettist David Johnston. Daughters of the Bloody Duke will receive its premiere performance Nov. 21 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Daughters of the Bloody Duke is a dark comedic one-act opera in which Margot, the young daughter of the Bloody Duke of Ravenswood, must choose between her growing love for her new husband and the demands of her revenge-crazed family.

Runestad, a Rockford native, is the composer of Dreams of the Fallen, a newly commissioned work to be performed with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra in November. The work features orchestra, solo piano and chorus with poetry by Brian Turner, who served as a soldier in Iraq.

A few words from the press regarding the work and Jake’s other compositions:

The New York Times: “Other famous pieces in the genre have viewed war from the top down, celebrating battlefield victories, military leaders and patriotic fervor. But this one — titled Dreams of the Fallen — will try to convey the experience from the bottom up, exploring the impact of war on the individual soldier.”

The Baltimore Sun: “The highpoint of the concert for me was the piece by Runestad, ‘As Rain to the Sea,’ for soprano and orchestra, based on a poem by Carl Sandburg. This is a big score with big ideas. I was struck by the composer’s firm grasp of orchestration, from the most percussive, brassy outbursts to a highly imaginative use of delicate pizzicato at the close, which creates a wonderfully atmospheric fade-out full of subtle tensions.”

Classical Voice of North Carolina: “Jake Runestad’s ‘I Will Lift My Eyes’ was a lovely piece indeed, an outstanding example of modern choral composition.”

The Sun Break (Seattle): “It’s worth keeping an eye on this young composer as his career unfolds in the coming years.”

Follow Runestad online at and

From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue

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