photo: Christian Steiner
COMPOSER

LORI LAITMAN

Bio updated April 2018

Described by Fanfare Magazine as “one of the most talented and intriguing of living composers,” Lori Laitman has composed multiple operas and choral works, and over 250 songs, setting texts by classical and contemporary poets (including those who perished in the Holocaust). Her music is widely performed, internationally and throughout the United States (Carnegie Hall, Benaroya Recital Hall, Strathmore Hall, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Concertgebouw and Wigmore Hall among others) and has generated substantial critical acclaim. The Journal of Singing wrote “It is difficult to think of anyone before the public today who equals her exceptional gifts for embracing a poetic text and giving it new and deeper life through music.”

 

In May 2016, Opera Colorado presented the World Premiere of Laitman’s opera The Scarlet Letter, with a libretto by Colorado’s former Poet Laureate David Mason. Laura Claycomb, Dominic Armstrong and Malcolm MacKenzie starred in the production directed by Beth Greenberg and conducted by Ari Pelto. Of the CD, released by Naxos in August 2017, Gramophone Magazine wrote: “The first thing that leaps into one’s ears in the sheer beauty of the music. Laitman has devoted much of her career to the art song, and her ability to meld words with lyrical, often soaring lines is on abundant display in her…impressive and fervent opera.” It was named a Critic’s Choice by Opera News, who wrote “Lori Laitman’s score succeeds with a surging, sweeping, unapologetically tonal landscape that offers carefully etched character portraits, rapturous choral expostulations and lush orchestrations of insistently tuneful motifs.” Laitman and Mason also collaborated on Vedem, a Holocaust-themed oratorio commissioned by Music of Remembrance, and are currently developing the opera Ludlow, derived from Mason’s award-winning verse novel about the 1914 Colorado mining town disaster.

 

The Three Feathers, Laitman’s children’s opera with librettist Dana Gioia, is based on a Grimm’s fairy tale and was commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, where it premiered in October 2014. Seattle Opera commissioned an abridged version, which is currently touring Washington State. Uncovered, Laitman’s opera-in-progress with librettist Leah Lax, based on her memoir, was a finalist for the 2018 Pellicciotti Opera Prize.

 

Laitman has received numerous prestigious commissions, including from Opera America, Opera Colorado, Seattle Opera, Washington Master Chorale, Music of Remembrance, The Howard Hanson Institute for American Music, The Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership and The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

 

A magna cum laude Yale College graduate with an MM from The Yale School of Music, Laitman has been featured on Thomas Hampson’s Song of America radio series and website and in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. For more information, please visit www.artsongs.com.


 

 

 

photo: Anne Lenox

 

LIBRETTIST

DAVID MASON

David Mason’s books of poems include The Buried Houses (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), The Country I Remember (winner of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award), and Arrivals. His verse novel, Ludlow, was published in 2007, and named best poetry book of the year by the Contemporary Poetry Review and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. It was also featured on the PBS News Hour. Author of a collection of essays, The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry, his memoir, News from the Village, appeared in 2010. A new collection of essays, Two Minds of a Western Poet, followed in 2011. Mason has also co-edited several textbooks and anthologies, including Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry, Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism, Twentieth Century American Poetry, and Twentieth Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry. His poetry, prose and translations have appeared in such periodicals as The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry, Agenda, Modern Poetry in Translation, The New Criterion, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, The American Scholar, The Irish Times, and The Southern Review. Anthologies include Best American Poetry and others. He has also written the libretti for composer Lori Laitman’s opera of The Scarlet Letter and her oratorio, Vedem. He recently won the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Creativity in Motion Prize for the development of a new libretto based upon Ludlow. His one-act opera with composer Tom Cipullo, After Life, premiered in Seattle and San Francisco in 2015. A former Fulbright Fellow to Greece, he served as Poet Laureate of Colorado from 2010 to 2014, and teaches at Colorado College.

In 2014-15 Mason published two new poetry collections: Sea Salt: Poems of a Decade and Davey McGravy: Tales to Be Read Aloud to Children and Adult Children. In 2018 he will publish Voices, Places: Essays and The Sound: New and Selected Poems. He is married to Tasmanian poet Cally Conan-Davies.