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Classical 10/10/2023

Baritone Will Liverman Announces New EP 'The Dunbar/Moore Sessions - Volume I'

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Baritone Will Liverman Announces New EP 'The Dunbar/Moore Sessions - Volume I'
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Following the hugely successful releases of his albums Dreams of a New Day - Songs by Black Composers (released by Cedille in 2021; GRAMMY nominee for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album) and Whither Must I Wander (released by Odradek in 2020), GRAMMY Award winning baritone Will Liverman announces his first EP, The Dunbar/Moore Sessions - Volume I - a collection of original art song composed by Liverman himself - out October 27, 2023 on Lexicon Classics. Listen to the single, "Morning", released today. A second volume of additional art songs is slated for release in 2024.

Liverman - both playing and singing on this recording - is joined by soprano Lauren Snouffer (starring this month at Royal Swedish Opera in the world premiere of Mikael Karlsson and Royce Vavrek's opera Melancholia based upon the film by Lars von Trier), violinist Lady Jess (a soloing member of Beyoncé's band, a 2020 winner of the UNCSA Artpreneur of the Year award, and Artistic Director of Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra), and tenor Martin Luther Clark (who created the role of CJ in the world premiere of Will Liverman and DJ King Rico's opera, The Factotum, at Lyric Opera of Chicago last season; Clark returns to Chicago in January 2024 for the Lyric Opera premiere of Terence Blanchard's Champion). The EP is mixed and produced by Jonathan Estabrooks (VP of Productions, Emitha Studios).

The Dunbar/Moore Sessions - Volume I includes the tracks "Morning", "Golden Day", "The Lesson", "Life's Tragedy", "A Prayer", and "Sonnet", all of which are settings of Paul Dunbar and Alice Moore's poetry.

Will Liverman sings and plays the piano on "Morning", which focuses on the ideas of rebirth and renewal. "Golden Day" also touches on similar themes, and is sung by Lauren Snouffer, with Liverman accompanying on piano. The song was commissioned by Snouffer, and serves as the catalyst for how this EP of collaborations and compositions started to take shape.

Liverman and Martin Luther Clark sing together on "The Lesson", for which Liverman's mother, Terry Liverman, acts as its inspiration. A voice teacher, Terry "uses her gifts to help others," Will Liverman remarks.

"Life's Tragedy" takes inspiration from Songs of Travel by Ralph Vaughn Williams, addressing the dichotomy between fixating on what is wrong in one's life rather than being grateful for what one has.

Snouffer returns for the song "A Prayer", which pays homage to the Gospel church, an important part of Liverman's background. Musically, À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn influences the composition.

"Sonnet" concludes the EP, featuring Alice Moore's writing with violinist Lady Jess featured on the song.

Will Liverman remarks, "There are so many ways to tell a story, and my appreciation for art song continues to grow, especially since I am able to collaborate with different artists who bring their unique perspectives to their work, and who open my eyes to possibilities I hadn't thought of before. Being on both sides of the process - performing and composing - is a really valuable experience that allows me to explore and develop the unlimited facets of song through myself and the talented individuals who want to take part in telling new stories."

In 2021, Liverman released his second full solo album, Dreams of a New Day - Songs by Black Composers, on Cedille Records. Performed with pianist Paul Sánchez, the album features Black composers across generations, from early 20th-century pioneers Henry Burleigh, Margaret Bonds, and Thomas Kerr to Robert Owens, Leslie Adams, and contemporary composers Damien Sneed and Shawn E. Okpebholo. The album was nominated for a 2022 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. Listen to the album here.

Liverman's first complete opera, The Factotum - described as "mic-drop fabulous good" (Opera News) - which he co-created with producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist DJ King Rico, premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago in February 2023. Commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, the opera is inspired by The Barber of Seville, updating Rossini's beloved comedy to a Black barbershop on Chicago's South Side. The Factotum blends diverse musical styles to create a soul opera, moving from gospel and funk to rap, hip-hop, classic barbershop quartet, and R&B. Houston Grand Opera, Portland Opera, and Washington National Opera are all slated to put on The Factotum in future seasons.

Will Liverman's 2023-24 season began with creating the role of Dr. Blackwell in the world premiere of 10 Days in a Madhouse at Opera Philadelphia. Following that appearance, Liverman sings the title role of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X at The Metropolitan Opera. He is also the recipient of the 2022 Beverly Sills Artist Award and will serve as Artistic Advisor for Renee Fleming's SongStudio at Carnegie Hall.
About Will Liverman

Called "a voice for this historic moment" (Washington Post), GRAMMY Award winning baritone Will Liverman is the recipient of the 2022 Beverly Sills Artist Award by The Metropolitan Opera and the co-creator of The Factotum - called "mic-drop fabulous good" (Opera News) - which premiered at the Lyric Opera Chicago in 2023. Described as "nothing short of extraordinary" (Opera News) with a "beaming, high baritone that easily asserts" (LA Times), Liverman has been hailed by critics for his versatility in dramatic and comedic roles, as well as on concert stages in North America and internationally, and his dedication and vision as a composer, artist, and advisor helping to evolve and push the performing arts industry forward.

This season sees Liverman's return to the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Anthony Davis' groundbreaking and influential work, and the third opera by a Black composer in the company's history, to be conducted by Kazem Abdullah in its newly revised score. Liverman was previously seen on the Met stage opening its 2021-22 season in a widely celebrated, "breakout performance" (New York Times) as Charles in Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up In My Bones, which won the 2023 GRAMMY Award for Best Opera Recording. He later reprised the role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a "rich leading performance" (Chicago Tribune) described as a "beautifully vocalized [...] gripping portrayal" (Opera News).

Following Summer 2023 engagements at Tanglewood, SummerStage, Brooklyn Art Song Society, and The Princeton Festival, Liverman's 2023-24 season includes productions with Opera Philadelphia for the world premiere of Rene Orth's 10 Days in a Madhouse as Dr. Josiah Blackwell and the Met Opera for Roméo et Juliette as Mercutio. In concert, he joins the Lexington Philharmonic for the orchestrated world premiere of Shawn E. Okpebholo's Two Black Churches, Houston Symphony for Carmina Burana, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for Brahms' A German Requiem, and The Washington Chorus for Elijah Reimagined, plus Dayton Opera, Caramoor, and Cincinnati Song Initiative for vocal recitals. He also serves as Artistic Advisor for Renée Fleming's SongStudio at Carnegie Hall.

Last season, the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented the world premiere of Liverman's new opera, The Factotum, which he starred in and composed with DJ King Rico. Inspired by Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Liverman and Rico place the story in a present-day Black barbershop on Chicago's South Side, and celebrate the strength of community and power of the human spirit. Blending together diverse musical styles, including hip-hop, R&B, funk, gospel, and traditional barbershop quartet to create a soul opera, The Factotum "offers a chameleonic pastiche of soul, funk, and classical elements that is incredibly effective" (Opera News). Regarding the highly successful production, "Will Liverman is the real deal" according to the Chicago Tribune, "masterfully [anchoring] this production and [providing] some of its finest vocal moments" (Chicago Sun Times). Houston Grand Opera, Portland Opera, and Washington National Opera are all slated to put on The Factotum in future seasons.

The packed 22-23 season included opening The Kennedy Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration, where Liverman played the Celebrant in Bernstein's Mass; starring as the Reverend in the European premiere of Jeanine Tesori's Blue at Dutch National Opera (house debut); and singing the title role in Pelléas et Mélisande at LA Opera and Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles at Austin Opera (role debuts). He also appeared with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Portland Opera, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, American Pops Orchestra, Brooklyn Art Song Society, Art Bath, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, and Sparks & Wiry Cries, plus solo recitals at London's Wigmore Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Virginia Opera, Chamber Music Northwest, Friends of Chamber Music, and Rhode Island College's Sapinsley Hall.

Cedille Records released Liverman's Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers with pianist Paul Sanchez in February 2021, a collection of works by Damien Sneed, Henry Burleigh, H. Leslie Adams, Robert Owens, Margaret Bonds, and Thomas Kerr, plus a world premiere recording by Shawn E. Okpebholo and Liverman's arrangement of Richard Fariña's Birmingham Sunday. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart, and The New Yorker praised its "clarity, sensitivity, and barely contained heartbreak," while NPR declared "velvet-voiced baritone Will Liverman is out to make the classical music canon more inclusive." Dreams of a New Day was nominated for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album at the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards. His 2020 album, Whither Must I Wander, with pianist Jonathan King, released on Odradek Records, was named one of the Chicago Tribune's "best classical recordings of 2020" and BBC Music Magazine praised Liverman's "firm, oaky baritone with a sharp interpretive attitude… admirable poise and clarity of intention."

In 2019, Liverman made history as the first-ever Black Papageno in The Metropolitan Opera's production of The Magic Flute. Some favorite highlights from previous seasons include Akhnaten (Horemhab) and Nico Muhly's Marnie (Malcolm Fleet) at the Met Opera; La bohème with the Santa Fe and Dallas Operas, and Opera Philadelphia (Schaunard); La bohème with Portland Opera (Marcello); The Love of Three Oranges at Opera Philadelphia (Pantalone); Jonathan Dove's Flight (Steward) at Dallas Opera; Fellow Travelers at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Tommy McIntyre) for its Lyric Unlimited initiative; Le Comte Ory at Seattle Opera (Raimbaud); The Pirates of Penzance with Atlanta Opera (Sam); the world premiere of Kevin Puts' The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera (Andrew Hanley); Pagliacci at Opera Colorado (Silvio); The Little Prince with Tulsa Opera (The Pilot); The Magic Flute with the Florentine and Central City Operas (Papageno); Jenůfa (Foreman at the Mill) and Menotti's The Last Savage (Protestant Minister) with Santa Fe Opera; and The Rape of Lucretia (Tarquinius) and The Ghosts of Versailles (Beaumarchais) with Wolf Trap Opera. Further, Liverman has performed the leading role of Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Seattle, Virginia, Kentucky, Madison, and Utah Operas. He originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker's Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, in addition to performing the role with English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, and the Apollo Theater. Liverman has also been featured in performances with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Aspen Music Festival, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, and Chicago Sinfonietta.

Expanding into the concert repertoire, Liverman performed the title role in a concert version of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and was a featured soloist in Brahms' Requiem with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Handel's Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, Carmina Burana with Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Mozart's Mass in C Minor with Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He was also featured in concert at Carnegie Hall, in addition to appearing in Schubert's Die Winterreise at The Barns at Wolf Trap Opera.

Accolades include receiving a 2022 Sphinx MPower Artist Grant, the 2020 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant, and a 2019 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. In 2017, Liverman received a 3Arts Award, a George London Award, and was recognized as a classical division Luminarts Fellow by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. In 2015, he won the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, the Gerda Lissner Charitable Fund Award, and a top prize from Opera Index.

Will Liverman concluded his tenure at the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015 and was previously a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois.

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