Sunday, January 1, 2006

Peter and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson / Phillip George

American composer Peter Lieberson (b. October 25, 1946, New York, NY) is the son of ballerina and choreographer Vera Zorina (née Eva Brigitta Hartwig) and Goddard Lieberson, president of Columbia Records.

He studied composition with Milton Babbitt, Charles Wuorinen, Donald Martino, and Martin Boykan. After completing work at Columbia University, he left New York in 1976 for Boulder, Colorado, to continue his studies with Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist master.

It was there he met and married Ellen Kearney, a fellow student of Trungpa. At the request of their teacher, the Liebersons moved from Boulder to Boston, Massachusetts. to co-direct Shambhala Training, a meditation and cultural program.

Lieberson attended Brandeis University, from which he received a Ph.D. From 1984-88 he taught at Harvard, and then became international director of Shambhala Training in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Since 1994, Lieberson has devoted his time entirely to composition. He met his second wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt, in 1997 during the Santa Fe Opera production of Ashoka's Dream, marrying her in 1999 after his divorce. The composer wrote the Rilke and Neruda Songs for Hunt Lieberson, the latter work co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony, with the world premiere given on May 20, 2005, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Esa-Pekka Salonen.


Flute Variations (1971)

Concerto for Four Groups of Instruments (1972)

Concerto for Violoncello with Accompanying Trios (1974)

Accordance for 8 Instruments (1975)

Piano Fantasy (1975)

Tashi Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1978)

Concerto for Piano (1980)

Three Songs for soprano and chamber ensemble (1981)

Lalita, Chamber Variations (1984)

Bagatelles for piano (1985)

Drala for orchestra (1986)

Feast Day for flute (also piccolo, alto flute), oboe, cello and harpsichord (or piano) (1985)

Ziji for clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cello and piano (1987)

The Gesar Legend for orchestra (1988)

Raising the Gaze for flute (also piccolo), clarinet (also bass clarinet), violin, viola, cello, piano and percussion (1988)

Fantasy Pieces for piano (1989)

Scherzo No. 1 for piano (1989)

Elegy for violin and piano (1990)

Wind Messengers for 3 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (also bass clarinets), 2 bassoons and 2 horns (1990)

King Gesar for narrator and chamber ensemble (1991)

A Little Fanfare for flute, trumpet, violin and harp (1991)

World’s Turning for orchestra (1991)

Viola Concerto (1992)

A Little Fanfare (II) for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano (1993)

Variations for violin and piano (1993)

Garland for piano (1994)

Rhapsody for viola and orchestra (1994)

Rumble, Medley for viola, double bass and percussion (1994)

String Quartet (1994)

The Five Great Elements for orchestra (1995)

Processional for orchestra (1995)

Three Variations for cello and piano (1996)

Ashoka's Dream (1997)

The Ocean that Has No West and No East for piano (1997)

Free and Easy Wanderer for chamber orchestra (1998)

Horn Concerto (1998)

Tolling Piece for piano (1998)

Red Garuda for piano and orchestra (1999)

The Six Realms for cello and orchestra (2000)

C'mon Pigs of Western Civilization Eat More Grease for baritone and piano (2001)

Forgiveness for baritone and cello (2001)

Piano Quintet (2001)

Rilke Songs for mezzo-soprano and piano (2001)

Ah for orchestra (2002)

Piano Concerto No. 3 (2003)

Neruda Songs for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (2005)


Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (b. March 1, 1954) was formerly a professional violist, and did not shift her full-time focus to singing until she was in her 30's.

Her parents were both involved with opera in the San Francisco Bay Area; mother, Marcia, was a contralto and music teacher and father, Randolph, taught music in high school and college.

Hunt Lieberson performed as a child in Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel and Gretel, as a gingerbread boy.

She began her musical career as a violist, and became principal with the San Jose Symphony. At age 26, she turned to studying voice seriously at the Boston Conservatory of Music.

After charity performance of the Humperdinck at a prison, this time taking Hänsel's role, she auditioned for the Met, at age 29.

Her professional career as a singer began in 1984, and in 1985 she made her operatic debut after meeting Peter Sellars and appearing in his 1985 production of Handel's Giulio Cesare. Hunt Lieberson began working with Craig Smith at Emmanuel Music as a violist, then sang in the chorus and began taking leading roles.

Her work with Emmanuel continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

While rehearsing in Peter Lieberson's opera Ashoka's Dream at Santa Fe in 1997, she met the composer and married him two years later.

Her debut performance at the Metropolitan Opera came during the 1999-2000 season, in eleven performances as Myrtle Wilson in the world premiere of John Harbison's The Great Gatsby (December 20). During this same season, she also appeared as Sesto in the New York City Opera's production of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, as well playing La Perelin in Kaija Saariaho's Clemence at the Salzburg Festival.

Peter Lieberson flourished creatively in their relationship, composing for her Rilke Songs (2001) and Neruda Songs, both of which have been recorded.

Critical opinions of her work, both in live performance and in recordings, have generally been high. Most reviewers have made note of her beautiful tone and controlled style.