LIAISONS Performances to Premiere Sondheim Reimagined by Contemporary Composers

 Pianist Anthony de Mare

Concert pianist Anthony de Mare has embarked on an intriguing concert series which puts a  new spin on works by musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. The LIAISONS performances feature Stephen Sondheim songs arranged for solo piano by an impressive array of composers from the worlds of jazz, classical, and pop music.

The project’s first 17 completed works premiered on a 2012 multi-city tour which culminated with a sold-out performance in New York at Symphony Space’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater in April 2012. De Mare will premiere 17 more pieces during the 2013 season in New York, Chicago, and Norfolk.

Liaisons marks the first time that Sondheim songs have been formally adapted for solo piano. With Sondheim’s approval, de Mare contacted 36 composers and asked them to create arrangements of the song which compelled them the most. The only requirements were that the compositions could be no more than 10 minutes long and must retain some of the original melodic material.

Minimalist composer Steve Reich made one of the most interesting arrangements by melding his signature driving rhythmic style with “Finishing the Hat” from Sundays in the Park with George (listen to this exciting piece here).

“Each piece represents a totally unique union of the composer’s individual style with Sondheim’s underlying substance,” de Mare explains. “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.”

Other works include jazz musician Fred Hersch’s “No One Is Alone”; classical composer Mason Bates’ “Putting It Together”; pop composer Nico Muhly’s “Color and Light”, opera composer Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “Pretty Women”; and musical theater artists Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Every Day a Little Death”.

De Mare will present LIAISONS here in Chicago on Sunday, April 7 at Music in the Loft. Tickets for this performance are available at musicintheloft.org.  Another performance will take place on August 25 at Ravinia Festival; tickets will be available beginning April 25. De Mare will also present the program on March 9 at Symphony Space in New York and May 22 at the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk, Virginia. The complete program is available at the end of this post.

Program details (subject to change; 12-14 works per concert)

*Andy Akiho (b.1978) Into the Woods

Mason Bates (b. 1979) Putting it Together                                                                                  

*Eve Beglarian (b.1958) Happiness                                                                                                

Derek Bermel (b. 1967) Sorry-Grateful                                                                                  

*Jherek Bischoff (b.1979) TBA

William Bolcom (b. 1938) A Little Night Fughetta

*Jason Robert Brown (b.1970) Green Finch and Linnet Bird                                                                                         

 Kenji Bunch (b. 1973) Ballad of Sweeney Todd                                                                         

*Mary Ellen Childs (b. 1957) Now-Later-Soon                                                                       

*Michael Daugherty (b. 1954) Everybody’s Got the Right

*Peter Golub (b. 1959) Children and Art                                                                                     

Ricky Ian Gordon (b. 1956) Every Day a Little Death                                                            

*Annie Gosfield (b. 1960) A Bowler Hat                                                                                       

Jake Heggie (b. 1961) Weekend in the Country

Fred Hersch (b. 1955) No One Is Alone                                                                               

Ethan Iverson (b. 1973) Send in the Clowns                                                                                 

Gabriel Kahane (b. 1981) Being Alive                                                                                      

*Phil Kline (b. 1960) Paraphrase                                                                                              

Tania Leon (b. 1943) Good Thing Going                                                                                     

Ricardo Lorenz (b. 1961) The Worst Pies in London + A Little Priest                                          

 Paul Moravec (b. 1957) Losing My Mind                                                                                  

*Nico Muhly (b. 1981) Color and Light                                        

*John Musto (b. 1954) Epiphany                                                                                                  

*Thomas Newman (b. 1955) Not While I’m Around                                                                   

David Rakowski (b. 1958) Ladies Who Lunch                                                                    

Steve Reich (b. 1936) Finishing the Hat (two pianos)                                                                                     

*Eric Rockwell (b. 1959) You Could Drive a Person Crazy                                                              

Daniel Bernard Roumain (b. 1972) Another Hundred People                                                 

*Frederic Rzewski (b. 1938) I’m Still Here                                                                                                     

*Rodney Sharman (b. 1958) Beautiful                                                                                        

*Duncan Sheik (b. 1969) Johanna

David Shire (b. 1936) Love is In the Air                                                                               

*Bernadette Speach (b. 1948) Love is in the Air + Send in the Clowns                                                        

Marc-Anthony Turnage (b. 1960) Pretty Women                                                                        

*Nils Vigeland (b. 1950) Alma Mater + Merrily We Roll Along

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