Lori Laitman

Lori Laitman


• Born 1955


Described by Fanfare as "one of the most talented and intriguing of living composers," Lori Laitman was born in Long Beach, New York, on January 12, 1955. Her mother played piano and violin and sang, and Laitman's two sisters also pursued musical careers. From an early age she made up songs of her own, and she was heavily exposed to classical children's music: Peter and the Wolf and Tubby the Tuba, for example. She took up the piano at five, the flute at seven, and composing while a student at Yale University, where she developed an interest in writing music for films and theater. She went on for a master's degree at Yale. Laitman was active in those genres while raising three children in New York in the 1980s. Laitman was stimulated to write art songs by a former Interlochen music school roommate who had just won a major competition and needed fresh repertory. Laitman at first demurred, but her husband and the recipient urged her on, and the result was the 1991 song The Metropolitan Tower, to a text by Sara Teasdale.

That was the first of more than 250 songs, as well as operas and choral works, to text by poets from antiquity to the present day. "I found my voice in writing for voice," Laitman has said. Her opera The Scarlet Letter, based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, had its premiere at Opera Colorado in 2016, and she has also written a children's opera, The Three Feathers, with a text by Dana Gioia. Laitman wrote an orchestral work, Unsung, for the 100th anniversary of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Plans for the late 2010s include a new opera, Uncovered, based on the memoir Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home, by Leah Lax. The Journal of Singing has stated that "It is difficult to think of anyone before the public today who equals her exceptional gifts for embracing a poetic text and giving it new and deeper life through music."