Pianist Liza Stepanova, praised by The New York Times for her “thoughtful musicality” and “fleet-fingered panache,” announces the August 28, 2020 release of her new album E Pluribus Unum on Navona Records. This collection showcases nine renowned American composers with immigrant backgrounds, including Lera Auerbach, Anna Clyne, Gabriela Lena Frank, Kamran Ince, Reinaldo Moya, Pablo Ortiz, and world premiere recordings of music by Chaya Czernowin, Badie Khaleghian, and Eun Young Lee.
Born out of the political climate of 2017, E Pluribus Unum is an artistic response to the immigration policies implemented by the American government at that time. Stepanova explains, “Many of my colleagues, friends, and students in the music world found themselves or their communities to be directly affected. One of them was the wonderfully gifted young composer Badie Khaleghian, at the time my piano student, whose Iranian parents were barred from traveling to attend his graduation recital at the University of Georgia. In response to this situation, I decided to commission him for a new work that became the centerpiece of a recital program and this recording.”
While some of the works address the urgency of historical, cultural, and political calls for justice – above all, the music on this album reflects the composers’ roots, celebrates their immense contributions to American musical life, and a confluence of voices, narratives, and ideals.
An important part of this project is also Stepanova's collaboration with Syrian-American visual artist Kevork Mourad. Mourad's painting Between Two Worlds, a reflection of the immigrant experience, graces the cover of the album, and his forthcoming video collaboration with Stepanova, featuring a live performance of Reinaldo Moya's Rain Outside the Church, conveys the message of gaining voice and refuge through art.
Stepanova continues, “Immigration is also an integral part of my own personal story. Born in Belarus, I lived in Germany for a decade and am now a US citizen. When I play the opening piece of this album by Lera Auerbach, it reminds me of home, as I spent a lot of my childhood in Russia, in my maternal grandmother’s house, filled with pictures of our family’s past. I got to know Venezuelan-American composer Reinaldo Moya in graduate school, and his personal connection to the difficult issues surrounding immigration is evident in his powerful piano cycle The Way North (2017), of which two movements are included on this program. Other featured composers were born or have deep roots in Turkey (Kamran Ince), Israel (Chaya Czernowin), England (Anna Clyne), Korea (Eun Young Lee), Argentina (Pablo Ortiz), and Andean South America (Gabriela Lena Frank). They bring a rich diversity of artistic, cultural, and personal expression to the vibrant landscape of American music and are an embodiment of the motto E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one.” Click here for an extended message from Stepanova, as well as program notes about each piece featured on the album.
Stepanova has performed at the Berlin Philharmonie, the Weill and Zankel recital halls at Carnegie Hall; Alice Tully, Merkin, David Geffen, and Steinway halls in New York City; and at the Kennedy Center. She has appeared as a soloist with conductors James DePreist and Nicholas McGegan and live on WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, and WETA Washington.
E Pluribus Unum follows Stepanova’s debut solo album Tones & Colors: Music and Visual Art (CAG Records, 2018), recorded with GRAMMY-winning producer Adam Abeshouse, which was featured on Performance Today and in a release celebration at National Sawdust in New York City. Tones & Colors covers a wide range of relationships between the two mediums – paintings inspired by music, music inspired by paintings. New Music Buff writes, “She plays what sounds like fingerbreakingly difficult music with both ease and expressiveness,” and BBC Music Magazine describes the album as “a varied disc with extensive programme notes and elegant playing from Liza Stepanova, who explores the intersection of art and music.”
For more information about the album, visit www.liza-stepanova.com/e-pluribus-unum