This week, we’re featuring an interview with double bassist Barry Lieberman. The former Assistant Principal Bass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Principal Bass of the Winnipeg Symphony, Barry now serves as co-director of The American String Project, an innovative string ensemble which features arrangements of string quartets for small string ensemble with double bass.
On today’s episode, Barry discusses his early years on the instrument, his time spent as principal bass of the Winnipeg Symphony and assistant principal bass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the formation of The American String Project.
Barry Lieberman is now in his fifteenth year as double bass faculty at the University of Washington. He began his career at age 21 as principal bass of the Winnipeg Symphony. In 1976 Zubin Mehta appointed him associate principal bass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a post he held for sixteen years.
Lieberman has been a regular performer with Chamber Music Northwest, Music From Angel Fire, the International Festival in Seattle, Bravo Colorado, Bargemusic, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and Mostly Mozart, and served as Principal Bass of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Colorado. Most recently Lieberman performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, both in New York City and on tour in Europe. He has also performed with and toured the Far East, Europe, and the U.S. with the Mostly Mozart chamber orchestra.
Lieberman has performed with many of the world’s greatest conductors, including Pierre Boulez and Sir Simon Rattle (in both orchestral and chamber music settings), Erich Leinsdorf, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim, Georg Solti, Eugene Ormandy, Claudio Abbado, Carlo Maria Giulini, and Kurt Sanderling, among many others.
He has performed chamber music with artists including Emmanuel Ax, James Galway, Lynn Harrell, Pinchas Zuckerman, Glenn Dicterow, and David Shifrin.
A former member of the New European Strings for several years, he has toured both the US and Europe with the ensemble’s leader, Dimirtri Sitkovetsky. Lieberman has also served as Principal Bass of the Seattle Symphony on many occasions.
In l994, Lieberman created the series “Barry Lieberman and Friends” at the University of Washington. The series combines the talents of School of Music faculty, members of the Seattle Symphony (including his wife, Maria Larionoff, Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony), guest artists, and most importantly, students from both the UW and from preparatory schools and high schools. The series has met with great success and critical acclaim, and has incorporated Lieberman`s project of arranging standard chamber music literature to include the double bass. Featured artists on this series include Gary Karr, Thomas Martin (Principal Bass, London Symphony), Hal Robinson (Principal Bass, Philadelphia Orchestra,), Joel Quarrington (Principal Bass, Toronto Symphony,) and many other prominent double bassists from around the world. The series continues and has become one of the most popular concert series in Seattle.
2000-2001 marked Lieberman’s debut with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in New York City. His recording of the complete Vivaldi sonatas arranged for the double bass and piano was released in 2001, and is the first and only recording of all ten of these sonatas. They were performed on his 1597 Maggini double bass, one of the oldest in the world.
In 2002, The American String Project (www.theamericanstringproject.org/), created by Lieberman, made its debut. A unique, conductorless string orchestra made up of some of the country’s best concertmasters, soloists, chamber musicians and teachers, the American String Project performs — in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall — primarily chamber music works arranged by Lieberman for a larger string ensemble.
The reviews from the last four years of performances speak for themselves:
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2002: “Project makes exceptional, bold debut…Kudos to all!”
Seattle Times, 2002: “The results were stellar”
Gramophone Magazine, 2003: “… expressive vitality, tonal depth, and corporate flexibility combiner to generate performances of compelling intensity.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2003: “… the performance was incisive and riveting, a testimony to the breadth and depth of these musicians’ interpretive and technical skills.”
Gramophone Magazine, 2004: “What a joy it must be for such high-powered musicians to collaborate in a fashion that is both liberating and disciplined.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2005: “The performance exploded with energy and vitality.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2006: “It is hard to do less than marvel at 15 performers playing with such precision that at times one has to look to see if more than one person is playing …”
Seattle Times, 2006: “… the reviews of previous concerts have ranged from extremely positive to outright raves … the playing was inspired”
Gramophone Magazine, 2006: “… an emotionally concentrated and involved performance …”
In the fall of 2003, Lieberman conducted several master classes at the Guildhall School of Music in London, England, the equivalent of The Juilliard School in America, and was recently featured in the world’s most important magazine for double bass, The Double Bassist (Winter, 2005)
In the summer of 2004, he was invited to join the faculty at the Round Top Music Festival in Round Top, Texas, one of the country’s most respected summer music programs.
Lieberman is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Seattle Weekly: “ A consummate chamber player”
Los Angeles Times: “Sophisticated and elegant”
Double Bassist Magazine: “A sensitive, persuasive, and technically assured artist”
Link of the Week:
Music Provided by:
Eric Hochberg –www.erichochberg.com
Special thanks to Daniel Chmielinski for technical assistance – www.carsleuth.net
Release Date: 8/2/08
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