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.

NEW RELEASE: Rochela (Raw Cello) for nine violoncelli

Rochela (Raw Cello). Germán Marcano, cello.  Also featuring chamber arrangements of other  works by Venezuelan composers.   Esperanto CD Systems, Venezuela, 2011.

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.

Canciones de Jara: Recalling the Soul of an Activist

Though there appears to be a tension between the song short form -simple, with alternating verses and choruses- and the large symphonic form developed during the classical era in Europe, Lorenz uses Canciones de Jara to resolve some of those contradictions and explore the deeper meanings of Jara’s songs. ‘That’s what the symphonic context allows,’ he says. 

Courier Post’s Dave Allen previewing the East Coast premiere of Lorenz’s Canciones de Jara with Roberto Díaz and Symphony in C, conducted by Rossen Milanov.

Read entire article published in the CourierPostOnline.com

NEW RELEASE: Compass Points by The Verdehr Trio

Compass Points. The Verdehr Trio: Walter Verdehr, violin; Elsa Verdehr, clarinet; Siliva Roederer, piano.  Included in Vol. 19 of The Verdehr Trio series  “The Making of a Medium.” Crystal Records, US, 2011

NEW RELEASE: El Muro by the North Texas Wind Symphony

El Muro. University of North Texas Wind Symphony; Eugene Corporon, conductor. Included in a CD titled “Revelations” containing other works by Higdon, Grantham, and Reed. GIA Publications, US, 2011.

El Muro (The Wall) for wind symphony

El Muro. University of Florida Wind Symphony; David Waybright, conductor.  Along with works by Reed and Hindemith. Mark Masters Records, US, 2010

Music and Sustainable Development in Cuba

When one thinks of Cuba, one thinks of three things: tobacco, revolution, and music.  However, of these three emblems, music best defines the identity of the country.  Since more than a century and a half, music has allowed Cubans to remain attached to the past while at the same time respond to influences and demands from the present.  Throughout the dramatic history of Cuba —which includes slavery, independence from Spain, U.S. interventions, and a socialist-communist revolution among others—, music has always been there for Cubans to not only record events but to also adapt to them.  During a five-week study abroad program offered by Michigan State University in conjunction with Cuba’s Universidad de La Habana and Colegio San Gerónimo, Ricardo Lorenz will teach courses in Havana that will explore Cuban music as it reflects upon some of the country’s major historical events.

Contrasts between the old and the new Cuba are everywhere in Havana

Under the new federal guidelines that make it legal for U.S. citizens affiliated to educational institutions to visit Cuba, Lorenz will travel to the Island with MSU students and with his colleague Rene Hinojosa (College of Social Sciences), who is a veteran of the study abroad programs in Latin American and who has taught in Cuba on several occasions before. Lorenz will pay particular attention to how today, in the city of Havana, music is visibly contributing to stir the country towards a new era, an era in which the old revolutionary culture seems to be merging with a new individual entrepreneurship mindset. After coming back from a site visit to the city of Havana, Lorenz explained that he was most struck by “how humanity exults in Havana; how the energy, talent, and spirit of the Cubans greatly overwhelm the infrastructure of the city and the commodities available.”  While in Havana, Hinojosa and Lorenz met with two of the most distinguished Cuban musicians:  multi-instrumentalist Bobby Carcasses, founder of the Havana Jazz Festival, and

With López Gavilán and Dr. Mariana García at Havana's García Lorca Theater

composer and President of Cuba’s musicians union Guido López Gavilán, whom they met at a especial performance of Beethoven’s ninth symphony by the Harvard-Ratcliff Orchestra joined by Cuban soloists and choruses.  Lorenz is planning on having both Carcasses and López Gavilán offer guest lecture-presentations for the MSU students during the four-week study abroad program to take place in Cuba between May 7 and June 10, 2012.

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