Jennifer Jolley

Photo by: Elizabeth Glenn Photography

Compulsive Bloom (2021)

PRIMAVERA II the rabbits

from the composer

Responding to Charline von Heyl’s response to Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera was an interesting challenge. My husband trained as an art historian, so I’ve become somewhat knowledgeable about the source work and, to a lesser extent, the play of images employed by Von Heyl. Indeed, I liked her work because it simultaneously departed from and connected to her source. Botticelli’s Primavera is often cited as a model of humanist learning and innovation. The Florentine painter’s unfolding of Spring in Venus’s garden was a collaborative work with the poet Poliziano. Botticelli translated an antique poetic form (carmen rustica/farmer’s song) into a modern painting. It didn’t cite specific works; rather, it was Antiquity renewed.

Conversely, Von Heyl describes herself as “ahistorical” and not that interested in a “linear history.” In her hands, the iconic Renaissance painting is a template that she overlays with vigorous brushwork, a range of overt and oblique references like Synthetic cubism and Pop Art, and fragments of text, patterns, generic symbols, and strange animal profiles. You might think these different processes wouldn’t relate, but Von Heyl does her own act of revival. Her painting compels the beholder to look again. The abbreviated figures of Botticelli continuously mingle with Von Heyl’s fragments and references. They constantly suggest potential meanings, recombine, and suggest something entirely different. It’s an extraordinary feat: Von Heyl makes an endlessly reproduced painting feel fresh and newly seen. When you listen to “Compulsive Bloom,” I’m aspiring for something similar. You’ll likely pick up references to Antonio Vivaldi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons (Le quattro Stagioni), Felix Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song” (Frühlingslied from Lieder ohne Worte), and Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du printemps) layered and recombined similarly. I wanted to see how the parts might come together and stand apart in a driving and compulsive manner, to have a pulse between familiarity and strangeness.


Jennifer Jolley (b. 1981) is a composer, blogger, and professor person. She is also a cat lover and part-time creative opera producer.

Jennifer’s work draws toward subjects that are political and even provocative. Her collaboration with librettist Kendall A, Prisoner of Conscience, has been described as “the ideal soundtrack and perhaps balm for our current ‘toxic… times’” by Frank J. Oteri of NewMusicBox. Her piece, Blue Glacier Decoy, written as a musical response to the Olympic National Park, depicts the Pacific Northwest’s melting glaciers. Her partnership with writer Scott Woods, You Are Not Alone, evokes the fallout of the #MeToo Movement.

Jennifer’s works have been performed by ensembles worldwide. She has received commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the University of Texas Wind Ensemble, the Quince Ensemble, and many others.

Jennifer deeply values the relationship that is created between composers and the communities with whom they collaborate. She has been composer-in-residence at multiple institutions. She promotes composer advocacy through her opera company NANOWorks Opera and her articles for NewMusicBox & I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. Also, she is on the Executive Council of the Institute for Composer Diversity and the New Music USA Program Council.

Jennifer joined the Texas Tech School of Music composition faculty in 2018 and has been a member of the composition faculty at Interlochen Arts Camp since 2015.