Cornish Presents Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano

Liaisons is a landmark commissioning and concert project, conceived by acclaimed concert pianist Anthony de Mare, based on the songs of legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. Thirty-six of the world’s foremost contemporary composers have accepted de Mare’s invitation to “re-imagine” one of Sondheim’s songs as a solo piano piece.  The concert version of this project makes its Seattle premiere on November 13 at the Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center.

The compositions created for Liaisons span the classical, jazz, opera, pop, musical theater and film worlds, with composers ranging in age from 30 to 75 representing seven countries and 29 Grammy, Pulitzer, Tony, Academy and Emmy Awards.  Unlike any other Sondheim tribute to date, its focus is on Sondheim’s power and complexity as a composer, allowing audiences to consider the music on its own terms. Sondheim’s reaction to the pieces will be shown as a film interview during the second half of the Seattle concert.

Following the premiere of the first thirty-two pieces from the project, over a series of two concerts at Symphony Space in April 2012 and March 2013, Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times described the new works as “not just inventive piano arrangements but new compositions requiring formidable virtuosity.” 

Iterations of Liaisons have toured to The Banff Centre, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Portland Piano International Festival, the Cliburn Concert Series and Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. It will be performed for the first time in Seattle, WA, as part of the Cornish Presents series.

Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano

Anthony de Mare, piano

November 13, 2014, at 8:00 p.m.

Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, 201 Mercer Street Seattle, WA 98109

Tickets range from $20/students to $32/general public and are available through

More about Anthony de Mare and Liaisons

Classical pianist Anthony de Mare designed Liaisons as a reinvention of concert theater. Individual pieces can be combined to form an infinite variety of concert, recital and residency programs, and Liaisons gives each venue the opportunity to work with de Mare directly on shaping the program best suited to their audience, from chamber music and jazz festivals to recital series and educational settings.

The Seattle performance of Liaisons will include the world premiere of Jherek Bischoff’s “The Ballad of Guiteau” (2014), which is drawn from Sondheim’s Assassins. Many of the composers represented in this concert are familiar to Seattle audiences through the performances of their work at Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Seattle Men’s Chorus, and others. Many also have performed here recently.

Liaisons program in Seattle

Nico Muhly:  Color and Light (2012) (Sunday in the Park with George)

Fred Hersch:  No One Is Alone (2010)  (Into the Woods)

Jherek Bischoff:  The Ballad of Guiteau (2014) (Assassins)  World Premiere

Duncan Sheik:  Johanna in Space (2014) (after "Johanna" - Sweeney Todd)

Wynton Marsalis:  That Old Piano Roll (2014) (Follies)

Eric Rockwell:  You Could Drive A Person Crazy (2010/14) (Company)

Rodney Sharman:  Notes on Beautiful (2010) (after "Beautiful" - Sunday in the Park with George)

Steve Reich:  Finishing the Hat - Two Pianos (2010) (Sunday in the Park with George)


Film Interlude:  Onstage Interview with Stephen Sondheim, conducted by Mark Eden Horowitz at Liaisons' New York City premiere (Symphony Space, April 2012)

Andy Akiho:  Into the Woods (2013) (Into the Woods)

Ethan Iverson:  Send in the Clowns (2011) (A Little Night Music)

Mason Bates:  Very Put Together (2012) (after "Putting it Together," Sunday in the Park with George)

Paul Moravec:  I Think About You (2010) (after "Losing My Mind," Follies)

Jake Heggie:  I'm Excited. No You're Not. (2010) (after "A Weekend in the Country,"  A Little Night Music)

Where Seattle Audiences Have Heard These Composers

Several of the composers who contributed to the Liaisons project have performed or had their works featured at Seattle venues in recent years. These include:

Nico Muhly premiered “So Far So Good” at Seattle Symphony in January 2012

Fred Hersch performed at Jazz Alley in April 2014

Duncan Sheik performed at Triple Door in March 2014

Wynton Marsalis performed at Paramount in March 2014

Ethan Iverson performed at Triple Door in September 2014

Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto will premiere at the Seattle Symphony in December and The Esoterics performed the composer’s "Sirens" in 2012

Jake Heggie’s “For a Look or a Touch” has been performed at Music for Remembrance and Seattle Men’s Chorus (the piece was featured during SMC’s 2014 European tour) and his opera End of the Affair was part of Seattle Opera’s 2005/06 season.

More about Cornish Presents

For more than 30 years, Cornish Presents, formerly known as the Cornish Music Series, has introduced Seattle audiences to rising stars and Seattle premieres as well as established masters in world music, jazz, chamber music, and more. Artists in the community also are invited to take part in a variety of free master classes provided by visiting artists and Cornish faculty. 

More about Cornish College of the Arts

Begun in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Performance Production and Theater, a Bachelor of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Early Music. Since its beginning, the College’s founder Nellie Cornish, and the many teaching artists who followed her, believed in education through exposure to all the arts. This approach continues to inform the College’s curriculum and community involvement today. The College is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. For more information, please visit