MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Peter Lieberson’s Final Word: Shing Kham

Peter Lieberson

Peter Lieberson

I can’t believe it’s been over two years since the passing of Peter Lieberson, a truly wonderful human being and a highly gifted artist. He had so much still to say when he left us.

For the posthumous Los Angeles Philhamonic premiere of Peter’s percussion concerto, Shing Kham, I had the unique privilege of being able to write about his final — but unfinished — word as a composer. I’m so grateful to Peter’s widow Rinchen Lhamo and the marvelous percussionist Pedro Carneiro for sharing their memories and insights regarding what Peter was thinking about when he worked on the score up until his untimely death in Tel Aviv on 23 April 2011.

Here’s the note I wrote for the LA Phil’s concerts:

For Peter Lieberson, working on what would be his final composition “was a life-sustaining and joyful activity,” according to the writer Rinchen Lhamo. She adds that it’s likely Pedro Carneiro’s “unique capacities as a percussionist had something to do with this: something brand new for Peter to wrap his mind around.” Lhamo was Lieberson’s wife when he died from complications of lymphoma in April 2011. Although he had been in treatment for some years, she recalls that her husband anticipated being able to complete Shing Kham up until his last bout of illness, which arrived suddenly and unexpectedly. Several other projects on the horizon – including an orchestral song cycle he planned to compose to poems by Lhamo – additionally indicate the resurgence of creative energy that accompanied work on the percussion concerto.

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