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Hollywood Film Composer Lior Rosner Releases Classical Album ‘Awake and Dream’ on Bridge Records

By Louise Burton l.burton@classicalite.com on Jul 10, 2014 12:54 AM EDT

Lior Rosner is a television, film, and classical music composer who is perhaps best known as the composer of the theme music for the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Rosner recently released his first classical album, Awake and Dream, on Bridge Records.

Rosner studied composition and theory at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a film composer. He recently received critical acclaim for his end-title piece "They'll Remember You" from the 2008 movie Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise.

Some of his most recent projects include music and arrangements for the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as music for the CBS show Battle Creek.

During his busy career as a film and television composer, Rosner has also devoted time to composing classical music. The title work of his album Awake and Dream, for violin and orchestra, is a meditative solo played by violinist Katia Popov and the Hollywood Studio Symphony, conducted by Rosner himself. Popov is a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Long Beach Symphony, and is concertmaster of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

The album also features Three Poems by Sappho for soprano and orchestra, In Time of Silver Rain: Seven Poems by Langston Hughes for soprano and piano, "Innerscape" for violin and piano, and "G-Pull" for solo violin.

I recently spoke with Rosner, who is based in Los Angeles, about his new album. He said that the title piece was named for a state of mind somewhere between sleeping and waking. "A lot of times, I would have this experience where I was [listening to] a Mahler symphony or other music I like and would just fall asleep for 30 minutes," he said. "I would have the music in my dreams too. You wake up and [think], what's happening, am I awake, or am I dreaming? I was trying to capture that mood or that space in Awake and Dream, the piece itself."

Rosner described a motif in the music that is similar to a clock ticking, meant to represent an external force that attempts to wake the dreamer. These two themes are "fighting each other, or the music goes in between those two [states]," Rosner said.

Of special note on the album is the seven movement piece, In Time of Silver Rain: Seven Poems by Langston Hughes.

"Langston Hughes was a social activist and early innovator in jazz poetry," Rosner said. "I composed the piece to liberate Hughes' words from the boundaries of historical context. I decided to set his work in a modern musical approach so that we might consider the contemporary relevance of Hughes' frank and often searing meditations on the universal themes of oppression, loss, frustration and love."

For another group of songs on the album based on poetry, Rosner reached far back in time to poems of Sappho, famous resident of the Greek isle of Lesbos.

"I really connected with her poems," Rosner said. I liked the way they were very direct, very picturesque." Rosner explained that he was reading her poetry at the same time that issues surrounding gay weddings were making U.S. news headlines. "And then you see that one of the [Sappho] texts is describing a gay wedding... It felt very current, like someone wrote it last week or something," he said.

Soprano Janai Brugger sings both song cycles on the album. She is a winner of Placido Domingo's prestigious Operalia vocal competition and of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, both in 2012.

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TagsClassicalite Recording News, lior rosner, awake and dream, Bridge Records, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Valkyrie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Katia Popov, Janai Brugger

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