Jayce Ogren is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation, and now that he’s living in New York City, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him. When not busy at work, Ogren still spends his free time listening to live music at favorite haunts, which he shares with us, below.
Ogren made his Mostly Mozart Festival debut with the International Contemporary Ensemble over the summer and recently reunited with the group at the Miller Theatre on a project centered on Olga Neuwirth’s music. In the fall, he led a Stravinsky/Balanchine program with the New York City Ballet and is working with the New York City Opera on two upcoming productions. Ogren can next be seen in his New York Philharmonic debut leading two premieres in CONTACT!, a popular new-music series at Symphony Space and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A native of Hoquiam, Washington, Ogren moved to New York in September 2010 and hit the ground running – both figuratively and literally. When he’s not writing music for his genre-bending band Young Kreisler, or standing before the finest symphony orchestras in the world, he’s trying to shave seconds from his marathon time. “I’m an avid runner,” said Ogren. “I recently completed the Madrid Marathon in Spain, which was really tough!” He’s currently training for his first New York City Marathon and third New York City Triathlon in 2013.
But Ogren’s been known to sit still, too – especially when there’s a good meal involved. “Trying new restaurants is one of my favorite parts of living in New York,” said the self-proclaimed foodie. “As a Pacific Northwest native, I also love good coffee, and a lot of amazing cafes and roasters have opened in New York in the past few years.”
Which brings us to Ogren’s first pick: Blue Bottle Coffee. “Can coffee be art? I definitely think so,” he said. “To the right of the espresso counter at the Chelsea location is a minimalist temple of coffee paradise,” explained Ogren. “Nel-drip and vacuum-brewed coffee await with homemade brioche toast and blackberry jam.” Blue Bottle’s Brooklyn roastery also has free coffee cuppings (the equivalent of wine tastings).
For arts patrons who prefer a stiffer drink, Ogren recommends Le Poisson Rouge. “I had always dreamed of a venue like LPR, where I could drink a Negroni in moody lighting and listen to a live performance of music by Steve Reich or John Zorn.”
Living minutes away from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Ogren can often be seen there catching a show (and conducting one in February!). He said, “The range of what they present is really astonishing, and the new BAM Fisher is a highly flexible venue that’s intimate, sleek and comfortable.”
Although Ogren is a big fan of BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House, he’s quick to say that the Juilliard School offers some of the best opera in the city. “It’s no secret that Juilliard students are talented, but I think sometimes people forget about the incredible range of concerts they offer each week (most of which are free),” he said. “It shows that you don’t need a huge house or multi-million-dollar sets to present great opera.”
On another campus farther uptown, Ogren praises Columbia University’s Miller Theatre for its progressive programming and focus on new music. “I especially love their Composer Portrait series,” he said. “They find a great balance in presenting established composers like Kaja Saariaho and Elliot Carter, as well as emerging voices like Arlene Sierra and Olga Neuwirth.”