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The Liaisons Project

New York, NY      

The Liaisons Project is a landmark commissioning and concert project, conceived by acclaimed concert pianist Anthony de Mare, based on the songs of legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. The project has brought together 36 of the world’s foremost contemporary composers to “re-imagine” one of Sondheim’s songs as a solo piano piece.

The result is a rich and varied new world-class piano repertory that reveals Sondheim’s influence across multiple genres and generations. Chosen by de Mare in consultation with Mr. Sondheim, the LIAISONS roster spans the worlds of classical, jazz, opera, pop, musical theater and film, with composers ranging in age from 30 to 75, representing seven countries and 33 Grammy, Pulitzer, Tony, Academy and Emmy Awards.

At its essence, LIAISONS is an homage. But unlike any other Sondheim tribute to date, its focus is on Sondheim’s power and complexity as a composer, allowing audiences to consider the music on its own terms. For those new to his work, LIAISONS makes a strong case for Sondheim as one of the 20th century’s greatest composers. For Sondheim aficionados, the concert experience allows a new perspective on his work plus a powerful and accessible introduction to the work of other important contemporary composers.

The commissioning process began in 2009 and to date we have 35 pieces in hand. The participating composers are (in alphabetical order): Andy Akiho, Mason Bates, Eve Beglarian, Derek Bermel, Jherek Bischoff, William Bolcom, Jason Robert Brown, Kenji Bunch, Mary Ellen Childs, Michael Daugherty, Peter Golub, Ricky Ian Gordon, Annie Gosfield, Jake Heggie, Fred Hersch, Ethan Iverson, Gabriel Kahane, Phil Kline, Tania Leon, Ricardo Lorenz, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Moravec, Nico Muhly, John Musto, Thomas Newman, David Rakowski, Steve Reich, Eric Rockwell, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Frederic Rzewski, Rodney Sharman, Duncan Sheik, David Shire, Bernadette Speach, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Nils Vigeland.

To date, 32 pieces have received their NYC premieres over the course of two sold-out concerts at Symphony Space in 2012 and 2013, both of which received raves in the New York Times and elsewhere. Anthony Tommasini described the new works as ”not just inventive piano arrangements but new compositions requiring formidable virtuosity.” Concert iterations of "LIAISONS: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano" have toured to Ravinia, Banff, the Mondavi Center, the Cliburn Concert Series, Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Portland Piano International Festival among many others.

Known as a champion of classical contemporary music, pianist Anthony de Mare has also been credited with the reinvention of concert theater. Individual pieces can be combined to form an infinite variety of concert, recital and residency programs, so LIAISONS gives each venue the unique opportunity to work with de Mare directly on shaping the program best suited to their audience, from chamber music and jazz festivals to recital series and educational settings.

Material is exclusive to de Mare through 2016, at which point the premiere recording and published versions will become available. Multiple Grammy Award-winner Judith Sherman is producing the recording, which is presently underway.

FINISHING THE HAT – TWO PIANOS by Steve Reich (2010)

Based on Sondheim’s “Finishing the Hat” from “Sunday in the Park with George”. Live concert footage; pianist Anthony de Mare plays against himself on recorded track.

Reich writes,“[It’s] a rather faithful re-working … harmonically very close to the original, and melodically adding only occasional variations, my only real change is in the rhythm of constantly changing meters. This gives my … version a rhythmic character more in line with my own music and, hopefully, another perspective with which to appreciate Sondheim’s brilliant original.”

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I THINK ABOUT YOU by Paul Moravec (2010)

Based on Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” from the show “Follies”. Live concert footage of pianist Anthony de Mare.

Moravec writes, “[The piece] takes its title from the second – and oft-repeated line of the song. In my re-imagining for piano solo, the eponymous musical phrase repeats maniacally to the point of ‘losing its mind.’ The piece is a musical meditation on obsession, heartbreak, and, finally, the timeless need to love and be loved.”

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LIAISONS concert trailer

Footage and highlights from the April 2012 concert at Symphony Space. Seventeen pieces premiered on this program, at which Sondheim spoke and Anthony de Mare played to a sold-out house.

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