On August 31, 2016, I will be a guest on the radio show "Music Matters," run by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez and members of the composition department at The Eastman School of Music. My daughter, composer Diana Rosenblum (a PhD candidate at Eastman), along with some of her colleagues — Alex Stephenson, Nick Morandi and Danny Hansen, will play a selection of my music and interview me. If you're in the Rochester, NY area, please tune in 8.31.16 at 5 pm EST on WAYO FM (104.3) or listen to the live stream at wayofm.org.
Commission from Howard Hanson Institute for American Music at the Eastman School of Music and the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership
My latest commission is from the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music at the Eastman School of Music and the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership. The piece will be for SATB vocal quartet and piano 4-hands, and will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Women's Right to Vote in New York State.
I am setting the humorous poems of Alice Duer Miller, a brilliant writer from the early 20th century. The premiere will take place at Eastman on March 5, 2017.
I am underwriting the NATS Art Song Composition Competition awards. The competition, started in 1983, had been held every two years. Now it will become an annual event, and the entry fees for professionals and students will be reduced.
For more information, please click here.
In Sleep The World Is Yours, was commissioned by Music of Remembrance, and sets 3 poems by the young poet Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, who tragically died in a Nazi labor camp at the age of 18. Scored for soprano, oboe and piano, this 18 minute work was released on the Naxos label in May 2016, on a CD with the one-act opera, After Life, with music by Tom Cipullo and libretto by David Mason. The cycle is performed by soprano Megan Chenovick, oboist Benjamin Hausmann and pianist Mina Miller.
Excerpts of reviews below...
"Laitman, who uses the unusual combination of soprano, oboe and piano for this cycle, seems deeply connected to the words, which are clear and straightforward but brimming with emotion. Her melodic and lyrical music is enveloping but also imaginative and penetrating, especially in the concluding "Tragedy," in which the poet realizes she will "fade like smoke and leave no trace." Megan Chenovick matches Laitman's empathy with her comforting, nuanced soprano. Benjamin Hausmann (oboe) and Mina Miller (piano) contribute with sensitivity. The poet's voice in these three songs and the Girl in Cipullo's After Life resonate movingly and meaningfully with each other." (Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, July 2016)
"Laitman chose three poems and set them for soprano, oboe and piano. The first, "Lullaby," holds a bittersweet element in that it was dreams that held the only available escape for some in those days...Laitman's writing reflects this unease within what is traditionally a form that provides a feeling of safety. The active beginning to "Yes," the second poem to be set, reflects feelings of distance between loved ones; the music softens as the realization that it is memories that hold the key to closeness sinks in. The writing for oboe here seems particularly poignant, adding its own florid commentary. Finally, there comes "Tragedy." The words are heartbreaking, and worth quoting in full: "This is the hardest: to give yourself away/and then to see that no-one needs you, to give all of yourself and realize/you'll fade like smoke and leave no trace." The singer initially can hardly get past the first word, "This," and here, the piano and oboe parts are at their most fragmentary. It is telling that this poem has the least text of all three poems, but Laitman accords it the longest setting. Megan Chenovick, superb through, really allows her voice to soar in this final offering, while Benjamin Hausmann's poignant pipings add an extra layer of regret for what might have been for this talented young poet whose voice was cruelly ended at far too early an age." (Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine, July 2016)
"Lori Laitman's 18 minute In Sleep The World Is Yours is a simpler, more profoundly distilled response to the Holocaust in the form of a mother-and-child song-cycle set to elegiac lyrics by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, dead at 18 at a Nazi camp in Ukraine." (Laurence Vittes, Gramophone Magazine, May 2016)
Boulder's DAILY CAMERA:
“[A]ll around superb … everything one could hope for in a new opera. … Mason's adaptation … is astoundingly brilliant … Director Beth Greenberg, who has collaborated with Mason and Laitman from the outset, provides a stark, riveting frame ... Laitman has grown and nurtured a score that already seems to belong to the standard repertoire the first time one hears it … [M]odern, but eminently operatic, taking close consideration of the singers and listeners.”
Full review here.
Laitman’s music and librettist David Mason’s words … spin one of the best-known pieces of literature into a whole new form adding sensible and sensitive dimensions that shed new light on the story. … What Laitman and Mason understand, and respect, is … that audiences want to be challenged but also entertained. And that difficult work can come in agreeable packages and maintain a high-quality. … [Laitman’s] composing voice is clear and confident, impassioned and likeable. … Mason … deconstructs Hawthorne's thick prose with his own sure hand. … [A]ccessible , compelling and audience-pleasing …”
Full review here.
“A brilliant new addition to the opera world … The singing, the staging, the story—it all adds up to a grand night of opera.”
Full review here.
The opera was also featured on the PBS Newshour with links to Colorado Public Radio's stories about the opera. Please click here.
See Dominic Armstrong and pianist Keun-A Lee perform Dimmesdale's aria "Our Nights" at the Colorado Public Radio offices by clicking here.
See Malcolm MacKenzie and pianist Keun-A Lee perform an excerpt from Chillingworth's Lament: "Now Truly Know Me" by clicking here.
Click here for 3 minutes of excerpts from the piano rehearsal.
Click here for 3 minutes of excerpts from the orchestra dress rehearsal.