LEONARD LEHRMAN (b. 1949) (ASCAP, GEMA), former Critic-at-Large of The New Music Connoisseur, Associate Editor of Opera Monthly, Editor of Opera Today, and Assistant Chorus Master of the Metropolitan Opera, founded the Jewish Music Theater of Berlin and the Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus, and is the composer of 226 works to date, including 11 operas (4 based on works of Russian literature), 7 musicals, 79 individual instrumental pieces, 90 for chorus, and 255 for solo voice, as well as 64 translations (from French, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, and especially Russian – including the operas Женитьба, Жизнь за царя, and Русалка) and 18 adaptations. He has degrees from Harvard College (B.A. cum laude 1971 in Music) where his teachers included Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner, Cornell University (M.F.A. 1975 & D.M.A. 1977 in Music Composition) where he studied with Robert Palmer and Karel Husa, and Long Island University (M.S. in Library Science, 1995), with additional course work in Fontainebleau, Paris, Salzburg, Ghent, and Indiana – where his teachers included Donald Erb, John Eaton, and Tibor Kozma.
He has taught at Cornell, Empire State College, and HUC-JIR in New York and worked privately with Elie Siegmeister, Nadia Boulanger, and Leonard Bernstein. Since 1995 he has been a Reference Librarian at Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library; since 2014 Music Director/Composer-in-Residence at Christ Lutheran Church in Rosedale, NY and High Holidays Music Director at the Metropolitan Synagogue in Manhattan. He was among the youngest delegates at the 1971 International Music Congress in Moscow and the oldest at the Moscow Youth Festival of 1985. He and his wife, soprano Helene Williams, have performed in 600 concerts on 4 continents, and 2,300 YouTube videos, watched by over 200,000 viewers. They made their Belarus debut in June 2016 at concerts in Minsk, Bobruisk and Vitebsk, leading up to the July recording sessions for this album in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Lehrman’s mother, Emily R. Lehrman (Mar. 1, 1923-Jan. 13, 2015), with whom he often collaborated, was a native Russian speaker, scholar (writing her 1947 Columbia M.A. thesis under Roman Jakobson on Pushkin in Soviet Criticism), teacher, and translator in her own right (for Solomon Mikhoels and Russian War Relief throughout New England in 1943; of Natalya Baranskaya’s Неделя как неделя, Massachusetts Review, 15:4, 1974; and Dmitri Nagishkin’s Folktales of the Amur, Abrams, 1980). This album is dedicated to her memory.
Lehrman’s association with Mandelbaum dates from the 1970s and the latter’s guest lecture on microtonality in a class led by William Austin at Cornell. In the 1980s, Lehrman programmed Mandelbaum’s music at Berlin’s Amerikahaus, and Mandelbaum programmed Lehrman’s music at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. In 1991-98, as the first President of The Long Island Composers Alliance, Lehrman brought Mandelbaum into the organization, leading to numerous collaborations in the NY area, including definitive performances of Lehrman’s Prelude: Bloody Kansas by an orchestra conducted by Mandelbaum, and of Mandelbaum’s Millay setting Love Is Not All by Helene Williams, accompanied by Lehrman.
JOEL MANDELBAUM (b.1932) (ASCAP) is Professor Emeritus at Queens College, C.U.N.Y., where he has taught since 1961. He has degrees from Harvard, Brandeis and Indiana Universities, where he studied composition with Walter Piston, Irving Fine, Harold Shapero and Bernhard Heiden, augmented by summer studies with Dallapiccola and Copland. Other influential teachers were Angela Diller, Helen Grant Baker and Tibor Kozma.
His works include operas: The Dybbuk (1972) and The Village (1995), the latter based on Susan Fox’s true story of a French village harboring Jewish boys from the Nazis, and The Man in the Man-Made Moon (1955, 1-act); 15 song cycles; 6 shorter song groups; choruses; orchestral/chamber works; experimental microtonal works. Works of his premiered by Lehrman & Williams include his “Song of the Common Man” and settings of Abel Meeropol’s “Remembrance,” a letter by Johannes Brahms, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets 78 & 116, the latter written for their wedding July 14, 2002. His 1961 dissertation, Multiple Division of the Octave and the Tonal Resources of 19-tone Temperament, remains in use as a reference.
Helene Williams, soprano, co-founded the Bronx Opera Company and, with Leonard Lehrman, Court Street Music in Valley Stream, NY. Having majored in Drama at CCNY, she first met Leonard when he auditioned as a director for Bronx Opera, in January 1977. Ten years later, she auditioned for his E.G.: A Musical Portrait of Emma Goldman, and, Leonard likes to say, walked off with the part and the composer. Helene has concertized in 17 languages (her Russian repertory includes Dargomyzhsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and Lehrman) on 5 continents, recording with Leonard on Opus One, Premier, Capstone, Albany, Original Cast, and now Ravello Records. A long-time vocal student of the late Cornelius Reid, she now works with Ellen Shade.
photo by Bonnie Geller-Geld
Александр Михалёв (Alexander Mikhalёv), bass-baritone (бас-баритон) was born April 25, 1983 in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia (Красноярске, Сибире), where he completed studies in voice, choral conducting and composition, and where he has since 2006 been a soloist with the opera there and a member of the Russian Composers Union. Lehrman coached him on his songs in St. Petersburg June 30-July 2, 2016.
The Meridian String Quartet, Sebu Sirinian & Lisa Tipton, violinists, Liuh-Wen Ting, violist, Wolfram Koessel, cellist, was established in 1990 at Queens College. They performed and recorded several quartets by members of the Long Island Composers Alliance, including Mandelbaum, in 2001 and 2005.
Владимир Ланде (Vladimir Lande) is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Krasnoyarsk State Symphony Orchestra (Главный Дирижёр и Художественный Руководитель Красноярского Академического Симфонического Оркестра) and since 2008 Principal Guest Conductor of the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra.
Leonard and Helene wish to thank Maestro Lande for his coaching on Russian pronunciation and for working, in his own words, with “energy and enthusiasm; also because of the Russian poetry that everyone in Russia loves.” («русские стихи, что все в России любят»)
The St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra was established in 1967 and until 1985 was known as the Orchestra of Ancient and Modern Music. Renowned conductors and soloists, including Yuri Temirkanov, Mariss Jansons, Sviatoslav Richter, and many others, have performed with the orchestra. In 1988, the orchestra began holding concerts in the Mirror Hall of the Princes Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace in St Petersburg. Since 1990, the orchestra has successfully toured in China, Japan, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Spain, Finland, Norway, Sweden, France, and Belgium. The orchestra performs and records music of every epoch, genre, and style, with particular attention to the music of living composers.
photo taken by Helene Williams in St. Petersburg, Russia, 2016
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Ravello Records is the contemporary classical label imprint of audio production house PARMA Recordings. Dedicated to highlighting forward thinking composers and musicians from around the world, the New England-based label's eclectic catalog offers listeners a cross-section of today's up-and-coming innovators in orchestral, chamber, and experimental music.
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