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News - Lieberson’s final work premieres and "King Gesar" rides on the beach

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The late Peter Lieberson's music is described by Alex Ross as, "cohesive, energetic and intensely communicative... with a current of lyricism and drama that gives this music its warmth and passion." Lieberson's music abounds early this season in southern California, including the premiere of his final work "Shing Kham" for solo percussion and orchestra.

Peter Lieberson had a close association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic which premiered his Grawemeyer Award-winning Neruda Songs in 2005. When he passed away in April 2011, Lieberson had been composing a concerto jointly commissioned by the LA Phil and the Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon) for percussionist Pedro Carneiro. Only the first movement and some sketches for the second movement had been completed. While composing this piece Lieberson worked closely with Carneiro in developing the solo part and a close friendship developed between the artists. Lieberson's long-time copyist and editor Dejan Badjnar transcribed the short score of the first movement, and then conductor and composer Oliver Knussen, a life-long close friend and collaborator of Lieberson's, thoughtfully realized the final orchestration. Knussen made an in-depth study of the short score, and the composer's manuscript and sketches during his work on the piece.

Lieberson was profoundly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, and themes from the Buddha's teachings abound in his oeuvre. "Shing Kham", which is Tibetan for "Pure Land" or sometimes "Heaven," was working title that Lieberson gave to the mercurial and energetic concerto during his composition process. The concerto premieres October 3-6 at Walt Disney Hall with Carneiro and the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Gustavo Dudamel. For more information, visit the LA Philharmonic website.

In September down the coast from LA, Long Beach Opera presents a fully staged production of Lieberson's epic "campfire opera" King Gesar for baritone narrator and chamber ensemble. Performances September 7, 13, and 14 take place on the beach at Harry Bridges Memorial Park in Long Beach. For more information visit Long Beach Opera online.

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