04. July 2006 · Comments Off on Very Sad News · Categories: imported, Ramble

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson has died. This is heartbreaking. She was an incredible musician. She will be sorely missed and this is a horrible loss. But, of course, the loss to her friends and family is even worse. She was only 52.

I was acquainted with Lorraine back when we all called her Lorrie and she played viola in the San Jose Symphony. She was at San Jose State University when I was there, and she played in the school’s orchestra as well. The conductor, Vernon Reed, was sitting near me when we were attending someone’s voice recital. They were doing an early opera, and suddenly this absolutely stunning voice was heard. It was Lori. Dr. Reed’s mouth dropped open and he said something like, “Where did SHE come from?” or some such thing.

When she was in San Jose Symphony we had a rehearsal on Halloween. Many folks came in costume. At one point, very shortly before the rehearsal was to begin. some unknown man came in. He appeared with full beard and turban and all, and we couldn’t tell who it was. He took his time getting to his chair, clearly toying with all of us. Only when he sat down in her viola chair did we realize it was Lori.

She came back to the San Jose Symphony to sing the solo soprano parts (this was prior to her moving into her mezzo-soprano world) in a weekend of Messiah performances. She was still as gracious and humble as ever. And we all melted when we heard her voice. Prior to the (if I’m remembering correctly) Flint Center concert she asked George to take one aria even faster (and anyone who knows George Cleve knows he can take pretty speedy tempi!). She had this gleam in her eye and he complied. She nailed it. And made it absolutely as musical as can be.

What a loss. To everyone.

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