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News - Lieberson's The World in Flower

Friday, February 27, 2009

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Click here to listen to Peter Lieberson describe the process behind The World In Flower.

Lieberson's The World In Flower

Photo credit: G. Schirmer
Peter Lieberson
Like Beethoven’s optimism or the spirituality of Olivier Messiaen, Peter Lieberson’s music is a herald of his compassionate worldview. On May 7, the New York Philharmonic presents Lieberson’s newest work for mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra – The World In Flower, his reflection on ecumenical tolerance and what it means to be human.

Throughout his oeuvre, Lieberson offers a trancendent picture of the world – making audible an abstract, yet ideal vision. In The World in Flower, Lieberson explores how spiritual life (and not just religious spirituality) can flourish in many ways.

Having seen in the world, “a tremendous intolerance toward people with beliefs by people who have different beliefs,” Lieberson was compelled to create a work that would express understanding about life and the common human experience.

To that end, Lieberson set the text of eleven different authors with different frames of reference including Rilke, Neruda, Whitman, a traditional Navajo poem, a poem from an Uvavnuk (an Inuit Shaman), and the Bible.

For Lieberson, the most interesting thing about setting so many disparate texts was the similarity of “understanding expressed within” each text. This understanding, to Lieberson, is in profound contrast to the world’s current predicament. To him, the world is faced with so much intolerence bred by people, “sticking to their own conceptual framework and not what’s behind it” – rather than the similarities in humanity.

It remains to be seen whether the ideal of global tolerence is tangible or not – in the music of Peter Lieberson, however, this idealism is a reality.

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