Lembit Beecher, our new composer in residence

We’re excited to share the news that Lembit Beecher will become our composer in residence starting with the 2016-17 season. Beecher will be our first composer in residence since Aaron Jay Kernis in the mid-1990s.

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as “hauntingly lovely and deeply personal,” Lembit Beecher’s music combines “alluring” textures (The New York Times) and vividly imaginative colors with striking emotional immediacy. Born to Estonian and American parents, Lembit grew up under the redwoods in Santa Cruz, California, a few miles from the wild Pacific. Since then he has lived in Boston, Houston, Ann Arbor, Berlin, New York and Philadelphia, earning degrees from Harvard, Rice and the University of Michigan. This varied background has made him particularly sensitive to place, ecology, memory, and the multitude of ways in which people tell stories. Recent and upcoming premieres include The Conference of the Birds for the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, as well as new works for the Diderot Quartet, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Opera Philadelphia and the Juilliard Quartet. Many of Lembit’s latest projects involve the incorporation of untraditional elements into operatic form, working with Baroque instruments, electronic sounds, animation, new technologies, and devised theatre actors.

The residency is possible with a grant from Music Alive, a national three-year composer-orchestra residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. We were one of five orchestras selected for the program. More than visiting artists, the Music Alive composers in residence will be centrally embedded within their orchestras, and their roles will be incorporated directly into the orchestras’ operations, programming and curatorial decisions, and activities in their communities.

SPCO Artistic Director and Principal Violin Kyu-Young Kim said of the residency, “We are so thrilled to have been selected to participate in the Music Alive residency with Lembit Beecher. It was my privilege to lead a deeply collaborative process with my fellow musicians and SPCO President Jon Limbacher that led to Lembit’s selection from a diverse slate of composers. The SPCO’s Artistic Vision Committee felt a strong emotional connection to Lembit’s music and his ability to weave stories and larger themes into his compositions in an authentic and meaningful way. His recent work shows an incredible range of expression, imagination, and instrumental color. His deep understanding of the chamber music sensibility and his gift for getting straight to the heart of the stories that he tells with his music makes him the perfect candidate for a composer residency with the SPCO, a residency which we believe will enable the SPCO to tell the stories of the Twin Cities community in distinctive and transformational ways.”