Stephen Sondheim Attends Anthony de Mare's LIAISONS II: REIMAGINING SONDHEIM FROM THE PIANO at Symphony Space Tonight
Tonight, March 9 (7 pm), as part of Symphony Space's The Music of Now Series, pianist Anthony de Mare returns to the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre for the second installment of Liaisons: Reimagining Sondheim from the Piano. Marrying his reputation as a champion of contemporary classical music with his deep respect for legendary musical theater composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, de Mare is building a unique piano repertory by commissioning 36 leading contemporary composers from the classical, jazz, theater, and film worlds to write short solo piano pieces inspired by Sondheim's music.
Anthony de Mare's sold-out Symphony Space concert last April featured seventeen of the commissioned works, including pieces by Steve Reich, William Bolcom, Fred Hersch, and Marc-Anthony Turnage. On March 9, de Mare will premiere fifteen new compositions by Eve Beglarian, Jason Robert Brown, Mary Ellen Childs, Michael Daugherty, Peter Golub, Annie Gosfield, Phil Kline, Nico Muhly, John Musto, Thomas Newman, Eric Rockwell, Frederic Rzweski, Rodney Sharman, Bernadette Speach, and Nils Vigeland. The works draw on famous and lesser-known Sondheim songs from Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies, Company, and other shows.
The evening will include an on-stage discussion with Stephen Sondheim, led by Mark Eden Horowitz, author of the critically acclaimed Sondheim on Music. Film clips of the composers speaking about Liaisons will be interspersed throughout the program. Tickets are $55, $47 for members, $15 for those under 30. A complete program list appears below.
This project marks the first time that Sondheim songs have been formally adapted for solo piano. With Sondheim's blessing, de Mare selected a remarkable and diverse roster of composers from around the world to re-imagine a Sondheim song of their choosing, resulting in a wide variety of settings. "It is aesthetically fulfilling to hear composers take my music and treat it seriously," said Sondheim, himself a student of seminal composer Milton Babbitt, during an onstage interview at last year's Symphony Spaceconcert.
Contributing composers represent varying genres of music including: jazz (Fred Hersch, Ethan Iverson); contemporary classical (Frederic Rzewski, Phil Kline, Mason Bates, Mary Ellen Childs, Derek Bermel, Andy Akiho); pop/classical hybrid (Nico Muhly, Gabriel Kahane, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Jherek Bischoff); opera (Mark-Anthony Turnage, John Musto, Jake Heggie); musical theater (Ricky Ian Gordon, Jason Robert Brown, Eric Rockwell); film (Peter Golub, Thomas Newman) and more. LIAISONS also includes works by Pulitzer Prize-winners William Bolcom, Steve Reich, Michael Daugherty and Paul Moravec, Academy Award-winners Thomas Newman and David Shire, TONY Award-winner Jason Robert Brown, and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik.
De Mare encouraged the composers to choose whichever song most compelled them, with the only criteria being a maximum length of 10 minutes and adherence to the song's basic melodic material. Composers put their own spin on recognizable classics like Send in the Clowns, The Ballad of Sweeney Todd and Being Alive, to name a few, but also on lesser-known works including Sorry-Grateful, Someone in a Tree and A Bowler Hat, among others. "Each piece represents a totally unique union of the composer's individual style with Sondheim's underlying substance," comments de Mare. "These aren't songs without words-they are complete musical compositions in their own right that reveal Sondheim's unparalleled capacity for melody and musical architecture." A full recording of the project is underway, produced by Judith Sherman, for release in spring 2014. Further details are available at http://www.theliasionsproject.com.