Works List



August 19, 2016

The 30-year-old Runestad is becoming a new household word among the choral cognoscenti in this country. He embraces all choral idioms, from experimental (see his “Nyon, Nyon”) to seriously challenging 21st century works, the two on this program among them.

Most arresting was a multi-layered piece with accompaniment, Reflections, a commissioned premiere based on the poetry of Thoreau. Following the text, the music similarly reflected life’s yin and yang — a reflection of how Runestad writes.

Oregon Artswatch

February 7, 2016

The afternoon’s highlight was Daughters of the Bloody Duke …goofily macabre in both story and music, it’s the rare modern opera comedy – a little campy, winking, silly and smart.

Opera news

August 5, 2016

Runestad’s Reflections, a Santa Fe Desert Chorale commission given its first performances in these concerts, contrasted restless and calming words by Thoreau…the music took on haunting loveliness.

Dallas Morning News

October 11, 2015

…there is clearly a progression in text and music from extreme violence to a kind of peaceful and well-earned acceptance that is not at all sentimental. Light seems to enter the music in Runestad’s beautifully written — and imaginatively orchestrated — final pages and, for the first time, we hear solo voices singing a gentle upward-climbing melody, suggesting that humanity has finally prevailed and might even survive. Turner’s haunting opening words are repeated at the end: “And I keep telling myself that if I walk far enough or long enough, someday I’ll come out the other side.” [Dreams of the Fallen]

Star Tribune

February 16, 2016

[Daughters of the Bloody Duke] combined humor with blood-and-guts–a kind of spin on the classic movie musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” taken to the nth degree; this time, it’s 40 daughters for 40 sons, with the women’s goal of killing all the men. Screams from all over the theatre punctuated the action, adding to the delight of the audience. The attractive cast…found the smart score congenial to perform.

Broadway World (New York)

October 11, 2015

It is hard to pigeonhole Runestad’s style. At times it is tonal and Romantic, infused with lyrical passages. Other sections suggest John Adams in the driving, rhythmic scherzos. Runestad’s sense of pace and balance makes The Hope of Loving a work that bears repeated hearings.

Miami Herald

October 6, 2015

Runestad…has a particular knack for marrying powerful music to texts that speak to some of the most pressing and moving issues of our time.

Star Tribune

June 7, 2012

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 individual soldiers.

New York Times

January 4, 2014

Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep, by Jake Runestad featured beautifully shaped and soothing lines that made this lullaby a gem.

Northwest Reverb (Oregon)

May 18, 2013

Three contemporary American composers put the company’s versatility to a test that it passes with flying colors: …especially, the beautiful piece that young Runestad (b. 1986) composed to accompany Psalm 121, a work that uniquely captures Seraphic Fire’s style and spirit.

[I Will Lift Mine Eyes]

Knight Arts (Miami)

January 12, 2012

The Florida premiere of I Will Lift Mine Eyes by Jake Runestad offered quintessential choral Americana, recalling the harmonically complex vocal scores of William Schuman.

South Florida Classical Review

December 9, 2012

The choir gave the world premieres of three works it commissioned specifically for its Christmas programs by the young American composer Jake Runestad. Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep was a lullaby with a classic American folk-song quality. Fear Not, Dear Friend was a quietly stirring and uplifting overcoming of fear, and Nada Te Turbe was a work that blended the contrapuntal style of older choral works with contemporary harmonies and turns of phrase, all tying together the present with the past.

Miami Herald/South Florida Classical Review

February 29, 2012

Jake Runestad’s I Will Lift Mine Eyes was a lovely piece indeed, an outstanding example of modern choral composition.

Classical Voice of North Carolina

April 30, 2013

Today, the 26-year-old is one of perhaps several hundred or so people in the country that make a living as a full-time orchestra composer.

Rockford Register Star (Illinois)

November 8, 2013

To be sure, the piano represents the character’s perspective. It is not like background music to a film score. The music reflects the soldier’s reactions and thoughts on the battlefield and which dwell incessantly within his dreams.

[Dreams of the Fallen]

Huffington Post (USA)

December 22, 2013

Jake Runestad’s Nada te Turbe combines staggered melodies passed between sections of the choir with accompaniment that evokes gently rolling waves. The 27-year-old Runestad has already received commissions from ensembles around the country. It’s worth keeping an eye on this young composer as his career unfolds in the coming years.

The Sun Break (Seattle)

May 15, 2013

The young American composer Jake Runestad’s I Will Lift Mine Eyes, featured on the new Seraphic Fire disc, closed the program proper. It’s a highly accomplished work whose sweet melody and pretty harmonies make it an instant favorite for choirs, and the singers gave it an expert performance.

Palm Beach Arts Paper (Florida)

July 10, 2012

Louisiana Philharmonic to play Rockford native’s work.

[Dreams of the Fallen]

Rockford Register Star (Illinois)

November 19, 2014

The score threads its way elegantly through the psychological twists and turns of the chaos of war and the soul-numbing confusion that afflicts the veteran as he or she confronts the challenge of creating normalcy in a life so terribly disrupted by the experience of combat.

[Dreams of the Fallen]

The Rock River Times (Illinois)

October 11, 2015

Runestad’s lyrical style, his use of the motif and the progression of his texts, from an opening question about the importance of accepting love in one’s life to the final affirmation that love is something people absolutely require, make the cantata something of a spiritual journey.

[The Hope of Loving]

Palm Beach Arts Paper

February 25, 2015

Runestad’s music is anything but dead. … After the performance, there was surely no doubt in the minds of the audience members that classical music is alive and well.

The Marcolian