Category: Press

The Worst [Empanadas] in London: Tribute to Sondheim on ECM

Cheking takes with Anthony de Mare and  2011 Classical Producer of the Year Judy Sherman

Checking takes with Anthony de Mare and 2011 Classical Producer of the Year Judy Sherman at the American Academy of Arts and Letters on October 31, 2014, New York City














Liaisons:Re-imagining Sondheim from the Piano has been described as a landmark commissioning project that brought together thirty-six of the world’s foremost contemporary composers from across the musical spectrum in order to “re-imagine” Sondheim’s songs as solo piano pieces.  Lorenz’s The Worst [Empanadas] in London is one of re-imaginations included in a 3-CD box set released by the record label ECM featuring pianist, and Liaisons co-producer, Anthony de Mare. Other composers included are Pulitzer, Grammy and Academy Award winners like Steve Reich, Wynton Marsalis, Thomas Newman, Frederic Rzewski, William Bolcom, David Rakowski, and many others.

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Lorenz travels to South Korea as Composer-in-Residence

Rehearsing with gayageum player Yun-Suk Eom and soprano Won-Yun Yang

Rehearsing with gayageum player Yun-Suk Eom and soprano Won-Yun Yang

Ricardo Lorenz traveled to South Korea on two different occasions as Composer-in-Residence. In 2013, he was the featured guest composer of that Seoul’s Pan Music Festival, the longest running contemporary music festival in South Korea. That year he attended the performance of his work Compass Points by the Seoul Modern Ensemble and offered talks on his music at the universities of Sangmyung and Gachon. The following year (2014), he was the Composer-in-Residence of the 16th Young-Nam International Contemporary Music Festival held in Daegu, serving as adjudicator of the 31st Young-Nam Composition Competition along with colleagues from South Korea and Japan.  On this occasion, Lorenz had the opportunity to rehearse and premiere Come Back for soprano voice and Korean 12-string gayageum, a work especially commissioned by the Young-Nam International Contemporary Music Festival.

Ahead of the tide, Ricardo Lorenz bridges U.S./Cuba divide

Lorenz with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Rene Hinojosa in Havana

Lorenz with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Rene Hinojosa in Havana

Four years ahead of the renewed diplomatic relations between former archenemies U.S. and Cuba, Lorenz and his MSU colleague Rene Hinojosa have taken students on a study abroad program to Havana in order to experience the culture of a rapidly changing socialist nation. Initiated in May 2012 and titled Culture and Sustainable Development, this program studies Cuba’s dramatic history, diverse genres of music, and its wide gamut of Afro-Cuban religions against the backdrop of this country’s long affiliation with the United States.The program draws connections between Cuban music and some of the country’s major historical events as they shine a light upon broad themes such as identity, nationalism, syncretism, and transculturation.

At Casa de las Américas with students of the Escuela Nacional de Artes (ENA)

At Casa de las Américas with students of the Escuela Nacional de Artes (ENA)

Of greatest interest to Lorenz is how today, in the city of Havana, music is visibly contributing to stir the country towards a new era, an era in which the socialist culture established after the 1959 Revolution is merging with an individual entrepreneurship mindset driven mainly by tourism.  In tandem, during his many trips to Cuba Lorenz offered lectures on his music at Casa de las Americas and received performances of his chamber works by MSU College of Music faculty at some of Havana’s iconic concert halls.  He also conducted research to support a future opera on Chacumbele, a Cuban legend of dubious origin with lots of room for re-interpretation.

MSU Symphony takes a ride to Macondo….again

The Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Kevin Noe performed Lorenz’s En Tren Vá Changó (Destination Macondo) on Friday November 16, 2012.  It is the second time in eight years that this work is heard live on the MSU campus.  In 2004, then MSU Assistant Director of Orchestras Raphael Jiménez brought the work for the first time to the University’s Wharton Center.  This performance took place before Lorenz joint the MSU College of Music Faculty and only three years after En Tren Vá Changó received its premiere performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia Festival.  

Lorenz greeting conductor Bill Eddins and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra after the world premiere

The ten-minute symphonic opener was commissioned by Ravinia Festival to celebrate its 100th anniversary.  This was the first in a series of so-called “Train Commissions” meant to commemorate the fact that the grounds of the Festival were originally a train station that took Highland Park affluent residents to the city of Milwaukee and back.   “However,” writes Lorenz in the program notes, “my work does not paint images directly associated with trains.  Instead, it attempts to rap the listener in an exotic soundscape that I hope will seem distantly familiar and bestow upon the listener the type of attraction that trains had upon me as a child growing up in a country like Venezuela where locomotives had disappeared due to the enormous impact of the auto and oil industries.”  En Trén Vá Changó (Destination Macando) was recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic under Raphael Jiménez and released in 2009 by Navona Records.

After the recording session with Navona Records' Bob Lord and Raphael Jiménez (center)


Listen to WKAR 90.5FM for the genesis of En Tren Vá Changó recounted by composer Ricardo Lorenz and details of challenges the work presents to performers as explained by conductor Kevin Noe.

New Work for Strings Premiered at Dali Chamber Music Festival


Lorenz speaking before the premiere of Habanera Science by the Dali Quartet Festival's Pre-College Orchestra

As Composer-in-Residence of the 9th Annual Dali Quartet Chamber Music Festival and Camp, Ricardo Lorenz spent several days this past summer 2012 in North Wales, Pennsylvania, working on two of his works with some of the East Coast’s most talented young string players.  Lorenz conducted his Rochela for nine cellos, originally composed for and premiered by the cello section of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and attended the premiere of a new string orchestra work composed especially for the Festival’s pre-college orchestra.  Titled Habanera Science, the work is conceived as a response to the news that the data collected from the recently discovered Higgs Boson particle, when fed into a computer, allegedly sounds like a habanera.  As he told the audience before the August 12th concert led by guest conductor Eddy Marcano, “after spending years studying Cuban music, and after a recent month-long stay in Havana, I can assure you that habaneras cannot arise from data fed into a computer.  Habaneras are born out of deep and profound longing for not only the city of Havana but, more significantly, its people and its culture.” 

Dali Quartet members with Lorenz and other Festival faculty

The 9th Dali Quartet Festival and Camp brought together some of the finest up-and-coming string players for a week of chamber music coaching, workshops, rehearsing, and concerts.   The faculty included the members of the Dali String Quartet, NYC Ballet Concertmaster Kurt Nikkanen, conductor and violinist Eddie Marcano, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Netanel Draiblate, and Ricardo Lorenz among others.

Cacerola Soul premieres in London

Ricardo Lorenz attended the London premiere of his new work Cacerola Soul on May 3rd, 2012 at the Southbank Centre.  Cacerola Soul roughly translates as “the soul of the frying pan” and calls for a SATB choir, instrumental ensemble and optional rapper.

Conductor Maite Aguirre & Lorenz following the London premiere of Cacerola Soul

The work was commissioned by The Iberian and Latin American Music Society of London (ILAMS) specifically to pay tribute to pot-banging protests as instruments of nonviolent resistance.  Cacerola Soul closed a concert that offered a kaleidoscopic view of five hundred years of Latin American classical music in honor of the recent bicentennial celebrations of Latin America’s independence. It featured London’s Latin Chamber Ensemble conducted by Maite Aguirre as well as other guest performers, including violinist/vocalist Omar Puente.  Known in South America as “cacerolazos,” these forms of public protests, led initially by middle-class women in Chile, began in the 1970s during the last years of Salvador Allende’s government.  After accepting the commission from ILAMS that specifically called for the incorporation of human voices as well as pots and pans, Ricardo Lorenz was surprised to find a lack of literature or poetry based upon the pot-banging phenomenon.

TV broadcast of an actual cacerolazo

Unable to find already existing text, he asked Venezuelan poet and friend Alfredo Pérez to write a suitable poem that would also reflect the fact that the United States was at the time besieged by the Occupy Wall Street protest movement. The result is a bilingual poem that credits middle-class women for the invention of the cacerolazo while inciting audience participation.  Before the concert at the Southbank’s Purcell Room, Lorenz offered a pre-concert lecture titled “Latin America’s art music: a simultaneous expression of reverence and irreverence towards the West.”

Ricardo Lorenz re-imagines Sondheim

M. Horowitz interviews Sondheim during Liaisons' New York premiere

On April 21, 2012, Ricardo Lorenz attended the New York premiere of Liaisons: Re-imagining Sondheim from the Piano, a concert project involving over thirty of the world’s foremost contemporary composers, including Lorenz, and their solo piano creations based on Sondheim songs.  Produced by Rachel Colbert and performed by pianist and  co-producer Anthony de Mare, Liaisons gathers short piano pieces commissioned from composers such as Steve Reich, William Bolcom, Fred Hersch, Frederic Rzewski, Paul Moravec, Mason Bates, and two dozen others.

Liaisons' producer Rachel Colbert (center) with pianist/co-producer Anthony de Mare and Lorenz following the premiere

Regarding Lorenz’s re-imagination of Sondheim, the composer writes:  “Summer of 1982 was wonderfully diabolic.  I danced a waltz with Mephistopheles and had my throat slit by the demon barber of Fleet Street.  I was a freshly arrived foreign student from Venezuela assigned to the Indiana University Opera chorus.  The summer opera season that year offered back-to-back performances of Gounod’s Faust and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  Singing in Faust dressed like a monk was great but this didn’t compare to the experience of encountering the powerful world of Stephen Sondheim for the first time and in such an intimate way.  Since that summer, I’ve come to greatly admire his other musicals.  However, Sweeney Todd has always held a special place for me.  So when pianist Anthony de Mare approached me in 2010 about contributing to the Liaisons Project I knew right away that I would write something inspired by Sweeney Todd.   I chose to re-imagine The Worst Pies in London and Little Priest as a tongue-in-cheek, smorgasbord of Latin American grooves that preserve the original features and intent of these songs.  The Worst [Empanadas] in London, as I titled my re-imagination of Sondheim’s music, was possible through the support of the late Fredda Hyman and  Music in the Loft, who commissioned the work especially for the Liaisons Project.”

Read New York Times Anthony Tommasini’s review of Liaisons’ premiere at Symphony Space

In Memoriam Fredda Hyman (1937-2011)

Fredda Hyman in her music-filled loft (photo by Antonio Pérez for the Chicago Tribune)

On December 1st, 2011 Music in the Loft founder Fredda Hyman passed away in her Chicago loft.  On that day, up and coming performers and composers lost one of their greatest champions.  As for myself, I lost one of my greatest friends and supporters, a surrogate mom and a confidant.  Please read my Tribute to Fredda Hyman, founder and artistic director for almost two decades of Music in the Loft.

Watch Lorenz’s Concerto for Maracas on Brazilian TV

Alcides Rodriguez performs Ricardo Lorenz’s Pataruco: Concerto for Venezuelan Maracas and Orchestra with the Orquestra Filarmonica de Minas Gerais conducted by Fabio Michetti. This performance was broadcasted on Brazil’s Rede Minas public television station.

East Coast Premiere of Lorenz’s Viola Concerto


Backstage after the Symphony in C premiere of Lorenz's viola concerto. L to R: Díaz, composer M. Contreras, Lorenz, violist A. Linares, Milanov, visual artist S. Amundaraín, and composer E. Amaya

A year after its first performance at Michigan State University, Ricardo Lorenz’s Viola Concerto received its East Coast premiere on October 15, 2011.  This time it was outside of Philadelphia, once again with violist Roberto Díaz for whom the concerto titled Canciones de Jara was especially composed, and this time accompanied by Symphony in C, a recently created professional training orchestra lead by conductor Rossen Milanov.   Lorenz’s concerto opened the orchestra’s 2011-2012 season along with staple works from the symphonic repertoire such as Listz’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1 and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

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