Program To Feature Conductor Susanna Mälkki and CSO’s Principal Flutist Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by the charismatic Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki, will perform the world premiere of GRAMMY Award-nominated American composer Lowell Liebermann’s Flute Concerto No. 2 on March 21, 2024 at Symphony Center (220 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604). In the newly commissioned work The Chicago Symphony’s will feature the soloist, principal flutist Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, to whom the composition is dedicated.

The program will also include Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4; and feature the renowned soprano Ying Fang. The full program follows:

            Richard Wagner                   Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin

            Lowell Liebermann               Flute Concerto No. 2

            Gustav Mahler                      Symphony No. 4

General admission from $39 to $250 can be purchased on Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s website. For more information, please visit composer Lowell Liebermann’s website, and the event page. The same program will be repeated on March 23 and 24, 2024. A preconcert conversation will be given by Daniel Schlosberg.

At once unabashedly romantic and modern, American composer Lowell Liebermann is internationally recognized as an artist capable of bridging an uncommon profundity with popularity.  In the words of long-time music critic Alex Ross of The New Yorker: “Lowell Liebermann is an epicure among American composers, savoring glittery chords, gossamer lines, and velvety textures that more self-consciously intellectual colleagues might be scared to put on paper.”  “Now brazen and glittering, now radiantly visionary…the work of a composer unafraid of grand gestures and openhearted lyricism,” proclaims Time Magazine.  And according to The Atlantic: “The music combines rich, unabashed emotions with an energy…shot through with expressive melody, brilliantly orchestrated, paced with unerring dramatic flair…crafted with passion and art.”

Not content to only compose, Mr. Liebermann excels as a solo pianist, both live and in recording.  He has given the world premieres of his own solo piano works as well as works by his fellow composers Ned Rorem and William Bolcolm.  In 2021, the Steinway label released Liebermann’s debut album as piano soloist to critical acclaim: “Personal Demons,” a compendium of music that has shaped Liebermann’s musical inquiry, including works by Schubert, Liszt, Kabeláĉ, Busoni’s monumental Fantasia Contrappuntistica, and works scored by Liebermann himself. The following year, in 2022, the Steinway & Sons label sponsored a second solo piano album by Mr. Liebermann, The Devil’s Lyre, featuring music of contemporary British composer David Hackbridge Johnson. On October 9, 2023, Mr. Liebermann made his debut as a pianist with the Kazakh State Symphony Orchestra at the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. During the same concert, under the baton of Andreas Delfs conducted two of Mr. Liebermann’s works, his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 74 and his Chamber concerto No. 1, Op. 28a for Violin, Piano, and String Orchestra featuring violinist Aiman Mussakhajayeva and Mr. Liebermann at the piano. . A Steinway artist, Mr. Liebermann made his Berlin debut performing his Piano Quintet with members of the Berlin Philharmonic.  

This season’s highlights also include a world premiere of Mr. Liebermann’s Organ Concerto, performed by distinguished organist Paul Jacobs with the Jacksonville Symphony and conductor Courtney Lewis September 29th, 2023. This concerto was jointly commissioned by the Jacksonville Symphony and the Oregon Bach Festival.

That same week, October 10 – 11, 2023, at the popular, off-beat Crypt Sessions in uptown New York City, Three Dances from Frankenstein received its US premiere by Gilmore Young Artist Maxim Lando. The Joffrey Ballet gave the Chicago premiere of Mr. Liebermann’s Frankenstein with choreography by Liam Scarlett and stage design by John MacFarlane at the Lyric Opera October 12 -22, 2023.

One of the most frequently performed and recorded composers of America, Mr. Liebermann has written more than one hundred forty works in all genres, several of which have gone on to become standard repertoire for their instruments. His Sonata for Flute and Piano and his Gargoyles for piano are among the most popular contemporary works for their instruments, regularly included in recital and competition programs. Each of them has been recorded on compact disc more than twenty-five times to date. His full-length ballet Frankenstein was co-commissioned by London’s Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet and has been released on Blu-Ray and DVD. The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra under the baton of Martin West has also released the complete score on Reference Recordings. Mr. Liebermann has written two full-length operas, both enthusiastically received at their premieres: The Picture of Dorian Gray, the first American opera commissioned by and premiered in 1995 by l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo, and Miss Lonelyhearts, after the novel by Nathanael West, commissioned and presented by the Juilliard School to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2005.

The celebrated flutist Sir James Galway has commissioned three major works from Mr. Liebermann: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra, and Trio No. 1 for Flute, Cello and Piano. Sir James premiered the Flute Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony under Leonard Slatkin and subsequently performed it with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He recorded three of Mr. Liebermann’s concertos for RCA Red Seal with the composer conducting the London Mozart Players.

Mr. Liebermann has composed four symphonies, a Concerto for Orchestra, three piano concertos, and concertos for many other instruments. His Symphony No. 2 was commissioned and premiered by the Dallas Symphony under the baton of Andrew Litton, in celebration of the orchestra’s centenary in February 2000. This concert was the ground-breaking first webcast ever of an orchestral concert. Mr. Liebermann’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was commissioned by Steinway & Sons and premiered by Stephen Hough with the National Symphony under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich. The Hyperion recording of the concerto – conducted by the composer – received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The New York Philharmonic with Kurt Masur and principal trumpet Philip Smith presented the premiere of Mr. Liebermann’s Trumpet Concerto, which the Wall Street Journal described as “balancing bravura and a wealth of attractive musical ideas to create a score that invites repeated listening.” He has also been commissioned by the Emerson String Quartet and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Recent new works include Cello Sonata No. 5, commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the University of Reno for cellist Dmitri Atapine and pianist Hyeyeon Park; String Quartet No. 6 for the Dover Quartet, courtesy the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music; a song cycle for soprano Brenda Rae, jointly commissioned by Vocal Arts DC and London’s Wigmore Hall; and Romance, Etude and Chorale for piano duet, his second commission from Steinway & Sons. 

Mr. Liebermann has amassed a remarkable discography, with over one hundred fifty releases on labels

such as Deutsche Grammophon, Hyperion, Virgin Classics, Hungaroton, New World Records, Albany, RCA Red Seal, Reference, and many others. His works are published by Theodore Presser Company, Schott, and Faber Music. He has been invited to serve as Composer-in-Residence for numerous distinguished organizations including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for four years; the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan; the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Mr. Liebermann has been a faculty member of the Composition Department of the Mannes School of Music of the New School since 2012. In addition to mentoring numerous young students, he is the founding conductor of the Mannes American Composers Ensemble, devoted to performing works of living American composers. Mr. Liebermann is the recipient of many awards and distinctions, among them the CAG Virtuoso Award given by Concert Artists Guild for lifetime achievement, and Grand Prize from the inaugural American Composers Invitational awarded by the Van Cliburn Competition. In 2016 he was awarded the Barto Prize for his Eighth Nocturne for solo piano. He has been honored multiple times by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, most recently becoming the first recipient of the Virgil Thompson Vocal Award for his body of vocal music. He lives in the New York City area with his partner, pianist and conductor William Hobbs.

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