September 6, 2013

Lera Auerbach, a composer/virtuoso & artist reflects on modern culture

For the very first time internationally, this year’s Mixon Hall Masters Series is gathering artists who are both virtuosic performers and innovative composers of works reflective of the time, culture and community in which they live. And, it begins on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8pm with 39-year-old pianist  Lera Auerbach, who epitomizes her generation both through influence and execution.

An artistic multi-tasker, Auerbach has made a name for herself through a prolific body of musical work as well as her interdisciplinary pursuits that include writing poetry and creating visual works of art. At CIM’s Mixon Hall she will perform a work of her own, as well as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

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This year’s Mixon Hall Masters Series heralds the implementation, starting fall 2013, of the new program for the Composer/Virtuoso at the CIM. The repertoire for the 21st century will depend upon the musician who can reach a new young audience and Lera Auerbach has proven to engage current classical music audience as well as the next generation. Her compositional catalogue contains nearly 100 works, including 2 operas, 8 concertos and 28 chamber pieces, but her artistic expressions don’t stop with those prolific notes on the page. One of her most recent and highly acclaimed works is a ballet telling the story of “The Little Mermaid.” In addition to composing the piece, Auerbach has collaborated in imaginative and colorful stagings of it, such as a 2012 production by the National Ballet of China in Bejing.


She has also taken her work to another level of musical experience in what some might call performance art with a new production of “The Blind,” an acappella opera written for 12 voices. A new staging of the work premiered in New York recently during which all of the audience members were blindfolded. Based on Maeterlinck’s symbolist play of the same name, it is one of Auerbach’s earliest works. An interview with Auerbach about this and her creative life was featured in The New York Times this past July.

“The message is that we are the blind,” she explained to Times reporter Vivien Schweitzer. “With all our means of communications, we see each other less and connect less. We have less understanding and compassion for other people. We have this screen between us.”

Off stage, Auerbach continues expressing herself artistically—making photographs, painting and creating 3D works of art. She refers to her exploration of the visual arts as a “coping technique” for dealing with stress and “creative procrastination” when compositional deadlines are looming.

Of course, her recital in the Mixon Hall Masters Series will focus on her as a composer/virtuoso—a masterful concert pianist who is helping to build the next great repertoire for the 21st century. As it is a solo performance, it will not include either of the aforementioned ballet or opera, but will feature Auerbach’s Twenty-Four Preludes for Piano, Op. 41 as well as her personal interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

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