Praised by The San Francisco Chronicle as “hauntingly lovely and deeply personal,” Lembit Beecher’s music combines “alluring” textures (The New York Times) and vividly imaginative colors with striking emotional immediacy. Noted for his collaborative spirit and “ingenious” interdisciplinary projects (The Wall Street Journal), Lembit is currently the composer-in-residence of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, having previously served a three-year term as the inaugural composer-in-residence of Opera Philadelphia in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group. A constant across his wide range of works is a potent sense of drama, which manifests itself through a quirky, thoughtful musical language, filled with both poignant intimacy and propulsive rhythmic energy.Born to Estonian and American parents, Lembit grew up under the redwoods in Santa Cruz, California, a few miles from the wild Pacific. Since then he has lived in Boston, Houston, Ann Arbor, Berlin, New York and Philadelphia, earning degrees from Harvard, Rice and the University of Michigan. This varied background has made him particularly sensitive to place, ecology, memory, and the multitude of ways in which people tell stories. Recent and upcoming premieres include “The Conference of the Birds” for the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, as well as new works for the Diderot Quartet, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings/University of Michigan Symphony Band, Opera Philadelphia and the Juilliard Quartet. Many of Lembit’s latest projects involve the incorporation of untraditional elements into operatic form, working with baroque instruments, electronic sounds, animation, new technologies, and devised theatre actors. In 2015 he received a major grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage to develop and produce “To Hide in a Tree of Sound,” a chamber opera for soprano Kiera Duffy, the Aizuri Quartet, and a multi-piece sound sculpture, built in collaboration with architects and engineers at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University’s ExCITe Center. Lembit’s New York City opera debut came in 2014 with Gotham Chamber Opera’s premiere of “I Have No Stories To Tell You”, written with librettist Hannah Moscovitch and staged in the medieval sculpture hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Grand Prize Winner of the S&R Foundation’s 2015 Washington Award, Lembit has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Copland House, Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, White Mountains Festival, and Scrag Mountain Music, was a graduate fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, and served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Denison University. His primary teachers have included Evan Chambers, Bright Sheng, Karim Al-Zand, Pierre Jalbert, Kurt Stallmann and Bernard Rands.
Written for solo viola and 13 winds, An Anthology of Joy was the result of a co-commission from the University of Michigan, Oberlin Conservatory and Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. Writing it I hoped to capture the type of uplifting joy that I so love in Bach’s Cantatas, but the compositional process revealed to me how multi-layered feelings of joy are. The 5 movements of the piece explore different shadings of emotion, a search for joy which seems more human than pure joy itself. The video includes mvt. I, and excerpts of mvts. III and V.
Commissioned by the Vermont-based chamber music series, Scrag Mountain Music, Looking at Spring used interviews with senior citizens living in the community as the basis for an exploration of the many facets of aging. Librettist Liza Balkan culled short poems out of these conversations, often focusing on unexpected beautiful and humorous details of life, but also grappling with larger questions of mortality, loss and self-discovery. Performance by Scrag Mountain Music and animation by Lembit Beecher.
An instrumental excerpt for cello and electronically controlled sound sculptures from the forthcoming chamber opera, “To Hide in a Tree of Sound.” The video features Karen Ouzounian, cello and Lembit Beecher, sound sculptures. These sound sculpture prototypes were built in collaboration with the Drexel University ExCITe Center in Philadelphia by a team led by Youngmoo Kim.