New age of anxiety

A new Piano Concerto

New Age of Anxiety is the new piano concerto from composer Jeff Beal written for pianist Anthony de Mare.  The two first collaborated on de Mare’s colossal Liaisons project that tapped 50 of today’s leading composers to reimagine Stephen Sondheim’s works for the piano.  Inspired by Beal’s interpretation of  “Not a Day Goes By” (a favorite of Sondheim’s from the project) de Mare approached Beal to create a new concerto inspired by our moment – a musical exploration of the contradictory energy, turmoil, and joy the world grapples with every day.  

This exciting pairing of de Mare, one of the world’s foremost champions of contemporary music whose versatility has inspired the creation of over 90 new works by some of today’s most distinguished artists and Beal, a five time Emmy winning composer who’s career spans Jazz albums for Island Records in the 1980s, to his celebrated film and television scores for House of Cards, Pollock, and Athlete A, to concert works commissioned by some of the worlds leading ensembles including LA Master Chorale (Sunrise), St. Louis Symphony (The Paper Lined Shack), Cantus (Beneath Thin Blanket), and  Smuin Ballet (Oasis) promises to be a thrilling new chapter in the collaboration of these two singular artists.

anthony de mare, piano

jeff beal, composer

artist statements

I first became aware of Jeff’s music through the television series “House of Cards”.  From the very first episode, I was completely hooked by the titles music – the driving rhythm and force, the tension in the harmony, and how it anticipated the darkness of the dramatic narrative that followed with each episode. I looked forward to each episode because of the music score.  

Years before, my actual first encounter with Jeff’s music  was the score to “Rome” which had captured my attention (not knowing at the time it was Jeff who wrote it).  It was the creative and effective use of percussion, the rhythmic vitality and overall mix of timbres and textures that were so captivating.  This led me to believe that, combined with the light playful rhythmic qualities of his score to “Monk”, a piano concerto written with a fusion of all these idioms would be very cool, unique, and fresh. 

Also, after listening to his Flute Concerto, I was attracted to the flowing nature of the virtuosic writing (especially in the 3rd movement) with its animated energy and infusion of jazz.  There is also a transparency to his more lyrical writing that I discovered in his new Piano Etudes that are not only sensitive, but also reflective, clearly tapping into my own musical sensibilities and instincts.

All of these elements together suggest a recipe for a very distinctive and exciting piano concerto that clearly would lend itself easily and fluidly to the overall theme of this “New Age of Anxiety” we find ourselves in, which, I believe will resonate with a wide variety of listening audiences. 

My relationship with Anthony De Mare began with Stephen Sondheim.  I was invited to adapt one on Sondheim’s works for solo piano for Tony’s multi-year project, Liaisons: Re-imagining Sondheim.  Hearing Anthony tackle 12 of these adaptations at Merkin Hall was a revelation.  His ability to deftly bring such an eclectic mix of compositional voices to life through the prism of Sondheim’s genius was nothing short of breath taking.   His playing belies a great fluidity of style, from avant gardé to jazz, classical, broadway and beyond – he’s a total artist.  The success of Liaisons throughout the world shows not only his commitment to new music, but also the celebration of that art which can be called quintessentially American.
In fact, Tony has a passion for the whole cannon of American music. I am most well known as a composer for the screen, and narrative often plays an important role in my concert works.  My working title for our new piano concerto is “New Age of Anxiety”. 
It often feels as if our world has spiraled out of control –  there is an intensity to our time I want to channel into the concerto.  The work will explore the piano as a percussive and rhythmic instrument.  A cinematic sense of orchestration and color will dramatize this energy – busy, propulsive, playful, ironic at times.  
Tony also possessives a beautiful sense of lyricism and tone. The concerto will also have lyrical, still passages amongst the backdrop of the storm, with a harmonic palette informed by Satie, Scriabin, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock & Keith Jarret. 

Praise for Anthony de Mare

“The adventurous pianist Anthony de Mare merged his passion for Sondheim with his effort to expand the recital repertory… the resulting project required formidable virtuosity. Mr. De Mare’s playing was dynamic and stylish… I loved it.”

– Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

Praise for Jeff Beal

“…Beal’s musical language was at times asymmetrical, and thoroughly “American” with overtones of Aaron Copland and John Adams.”

–Christopher Ruel, Operawire


Commission, Booking, & Rental Information