Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano

Hear how 36 world-class composers from multiple genres have re-imagined their favorite Sondheim song for solo piano!
Rachel Colbert
2 Facebook Friends
New York, New York
United States
6 Team Members
Liaisons is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Liaisons must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.



In the fall of 2015, ECM Records will release Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano. All we need to do is finish recording it and get it to them by the end of the year! 

Please help us with the final three sessions - anything "extra" goes toward paying off the first nine.

What is The Liaisons Project?

Liaisons is a landmark commissioning and concert project, conceived by acclaimed concert pianist Anthony de Mare, based on the songs of legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. 

At its essence, Liaisons is an homage. But unlike tributes to his show tunes, which have featured some of the world’s greatest singers, Liaisons' focus is on Sondheim the composer - featuring some of the world's foremost composers in classical, jazz, pop, theater and film music. 

We began commissioning composers in 2009, and in 2011 had received enough pieces to start touring them in concert. Tony has performed the pieces in various combinations to sold-out houses and rave reviews at Symphony Space, the Ravinia and Gilmore Festivals and other major venues in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego and Portland (to name a few). 

As of this writing we finally have all 36 pieces in hand. Until now, no one has ever heard the music outside of a live performance... and no one has ever heard all the pieces together. But with your help, we can change that!  

Pianist Anthony de Mare playing Rodney Sharman's Notes on Beautiful at Symphony Space, March 2013. Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times wrote, "Mr. de Mare's playing was dynamic and stylish.... I loved it."

Composers and Song Selections

Tony started with a core list of artists that grew as the project progressed, with additional input from Mr. Sondheim and producer Rachel Colbert. We wanted a roster that was diverse and intriguing, including composers who aren't associated with "musical theater", and we felt it was important to invite emerging composers alongside the established ones. 

We capped the number at 36, in part because it lends itself well to concertizing (three programs of 12). Our final list ranges in age from 30 to 75, represents seven different countries, and encompasses 44 Grammy, Tony, Pulitzer, Emmy and Academy Awards.

And here they are...

Andy Akiho Into the Woods 

Mason Bates  Very Put Together (after Putting It Together)

Eve Beglarian Perpetual Happiness (after Happiness)

Derek Bermel Sorry-Grateful

Jherek Bischoff Ballad of Guiteau

William Bolcom A Little Night Fughetta (after Send in the Clowns/Anyone Can Whistle)

Jason Robert Brown Birds of Victorian England (after Green Finch and Linnet Bird)

Kenji Bunch The Demon Barber (after The Ballad of Sweeney Todd)

Mary Ellen Childs Now (Now/Later/Soon)

Michael Daugherty Everybody’s Got the Right

Peter Golub A Child of Children and Art

Ricky Ian Gordon Every Day a Little Death

Annie Gosfield A Bowler Hat

Jake Heggie I’m Excited. No, You’re Not. (after A Weekend in the Country)

Fred Hersch No One is Alone

Ethan Iverson Send in the Clowns

Gabriel Kahane Being Alive

Phil Kline Paraphrase of Someone in a Tree

Tania Leon going… gone (after Good Thing Going)

Ricardo Lorenz The Worst [Empanadas] in London (after The Worst Pies in London/A Little Priest)

Wynton Marsalis That Old Piano Roll

Paul Moravec I Think About You (after Losing My Mind)

Nico Muhly Color and Light

John Musto Epiphany

Thomas Newman Not While I’m Around

David Rakowski The Ladies Who Lunch

Steve Reich Finishing the Hat – Two Pianos

Eric Rockwell You Could Drive a Person Crazy

Daniel Bernard Roumain Another Hundred People

Frederic Rzewski I’m Still Here

Rodney Sharman Notes on Beautiful (after Beautiful)

Duncan Sheik Johanna… in Space

David Shire Love is In the Air

Bernadette Speach In and Out of Love (after Liaisons/ Send in the Clowns

Mark-Anthony Turnage Pretty Women

Nils Vigeland Alma Mater/Merrily We Roll Along

Wait - Sondheim Who?

We especially welcome people who aren't so familiar with Sondheim - even people who "hate" musicals. This project is as much for you as for anybody! 

Here's a two-second primer: Sondheim turned a simple and saccharine form of popular entertainment into something witty and profoundly sophisticated. Although he's probably best known for his song Send in the Clowns, because it was covered by Judy Collins, just knowing him for that would be like just knowing Einstein for his wacky hair. 

Sondheim started as a lyricist (West Side Story, Gypsy) before creating his own shows, including two that were turned into major motion pictures: Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods. His source material has ranged from George Seurat and Ingmar Bergman to the letters of Commodore Perry and the stories of The Brothers Grimm. His fans range from Cornel West to Stephen Colbert. He's not your usual musical theater guy.


Even South Park and The Simpsons <heart> Sondheim.


About the Recording

ECM is an ideal match for Liaisons. They're known for producing groundbreaking music “unfettered by genre”, and they’re also known for releasing gorgeous physical CDs (not just digital tracks). We're excited and honored by their interest.

Our producer/engineer is the incomparable Judy Sherman (three-time Grammy Award-winner as Classical Producer of the Year), and we are recording at the American Academy of Arts & Letters, whose acoustics are considered among the worlds finest. We've recorded 29 pieces to date.

But the recording business has changed. Labels seldom pay for recording costs any more. We are responsible for delivering all 3+ hours of music to ECM, at our own expense, by the end of 2014.

On deck a few months back: Phil Kline, Nico Muhly, Ricky Ian Gordon.

Why This Campaign? 

We begged, borrowed and stole to make it through the first nine sessions, and we have three more to go. So we took a leap of faith and booked the hall for November 1st -3rd. 

That's where we hope you'll come in. Each session costs about $4,000: $1K in engineering costs, $1K in piano costs (rental, carting, tuning), $1K to rent the Academy and $1K in performance and documentation fees. 

Our $15K goal represents $12K for the upcoming three sessions, plus $3K in outstanding bills from the two June sessions (after we cut the campaign video).

The American Academy of Arts and Letters: one of the most acoustically perfect spaces in the U.S.   

For Tony and me, crowd-funding isn’t just a financial necessity. We believe that involving more people helps further the legacy of ALL the composers - not just Sondheim - and proves that music no longer has to be “ghettoized” by genre. This music should belong to everyone!

When Sondheim first started writing his own music, a lot of people asked him why he didn't just stick to lyrics, since he was so good at them. But he proceeded to take a risk - and The Liaisons Project is as much a tribute to risk and the breaking of artistic boundaries as it is to the composer himself.

A note on transparency: the donor price points are a little funky to compensate for the 7% fees taken out by Fractured Atlas – but it's totally worth it, because they make it entirely tax deductible for you. Oh - and perks are cumulative! So each level gets all that came before it too.

The Maestro, speaking on stage at the Liaisons NYC Premiere in April 2012.

... and with Tony after Liaisons II in March 2013.

Please Share Your Thoughts!

We'd love to know what you think about the project - what are you most excited to hear? What do you think of "Sondheim without words"? 

Please email me at if you have any questions, comments, or even any other perks you’d like to see.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit this campaign page… even if you can’t participate right now, please tell your friends!                    

Find This Campaign On
raised by 145 people in 25 days
134% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$15,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 9, 2014
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  • $5USD

    It’s a drop in the bucket but it still makes a splash and we thank you! You’ll be included on our Virtual Campaign Party poster once we raise our goal - this beautifully designed jpeg will feature the names of ALL the people who gave, and will be sent to everyone – donors, artists and press. (If you like our logo you'll love the VCP poster.)

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $22USD
    On the Team

    Thank you! This amount means we get $20, which makes us happy and makes you a meaningful part of this campaign. We'll give you a shoutout on our Facebook page and advance pre-order notice for the CD – and If we’re able to offer discounts, you’ll get one. Plus you'll be part of the VCP poster, in a bigger font than the Splash folks. (Donor names will get progressively bigger from here.)

    18 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $43USD
    Ahead of the Crowd

    Thanks for bumping it up a level! You’re ready for some music now: we will send you two digital tracks of your choice (unmastered) – so you’ll have sneak previews of two pieces. We made it two tracks because we knew you couldn’t choose just one.

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $107USD
    Adorn your Purchase

    Thank you for your belief in this project. Your CD(s) will be sent with a thank you autograph or note from Tony. Mailed to your door - with a photo if you'd like! (amount over $45 is tax-deductible)

    13 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2015
  • $134USD
    Up Close and Personal

    We seriously appreciate your coming in at this level. Come take a peek into the creative process with a digitized copy of an archival LIAISONS videotaped interview. Hear the composer of your choice talk about their piece… their first encounter with Sondheim… why they chose the piece they did… and whatever else crossed their mind that day. These informal, candid interviews are unpublished and available nowhere else. Can’t decide who? Add another $20 for each additional! (amount over $45 is tax-deductible)

    1 claimed
  • $161USD
    Further Adornment

    Wow– thank you. A composer from the following list will add their personalized autograph to Tony’s on your CD- and some will even send you a note on your next birthday! We’ll announce as more names get added, so check the updates tab - but so far The List already includes Andy Akiho, Derek Bermel, Michael Daugherty, Jake Heggie, Fred Hersch, Ethan Iverson, Phil Kline, Wynton Marsalis, Nico Muhly, David Rakowski, Steve Reich, Duncan Sheik, David Shire and more (5 per composer). (amount over $70 is tax-deductible)

    2 claimed
  • $215USD
    A Sondheim Ph.D

    You must love Sondheim nearly as much as we do. Take an intensive dive into his artistry with a hardback copy of Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions, filled with guided interviews in which he goes into great depth and detail on his craft signed. Signed by author Mark Eden Horowitz! (amount over $70 is tax-deductible)

    3 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2015
  • $375USD
    A Signed Score

    A significant gift deserves a significant reward. Get a score before they’re published, signed by the composer! Choose from the above “Sign Your CD” list. We’ll announce as more names get added! (Three available per composer). Some sketches may also be available. (amount over $75 is tax-deductible)

    1 out of 24 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2014
  • $500USD
    Sondheim Signs for You

    ALL OF THE ABOVE plus... Mr. Sondheim will sign your Liaisons CD. To you personally. (amount over $90 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2015
  • $500USD
    Meet for a Drink

    More live goodness – with alcohol! (Or the non-alcoholic beverage of your choice.) Meet Tony and either Nico Muhly or Duncan Sheik for a drink –on us. (Just the first one. Whatever happens after that stays in Vegas.) We’ll announce as more names get added! (amount over $90 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 16 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2015
  • $535USD
    Some Live Goodness

    Thanks! You really moved the needle. Want Phil Kline to write you a birthday song? How about a 1-hour piano lesson with Ethan Iverson, coaching session with Fred Hersch, or steel pan lesson with Andy Akiho? Got a score you’d like David Shire to critique? Want a backstage pass to Duncan Sheik, Fred Hersch or The Bad Plus? Your piano tuned by a Steinway tuner who’s so good she inherited Horowitz’ piano? Any one of these can be yours at this gift level… two per item available. (amount over $75 is tax-deductible)

    3 out of 18 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2015
  • $1,050USD
    Be In the Room

    Come up to the Academy and sit in on one of our remaining sessions. Bring a friend! But no talking. (amount over $90 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2014
  • $1,400USD

    Your name on the album, credited in the print materials. (amount over $90 is tax-deductible)

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2015
  • $2,500USD
    Tony de Mare Plays for You

    A private house concert for you and your friends, with repertoire from The Liaisons Project. Or any venue you supply (pre-approval required). (amount over $250 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2015
  • $5,000USD
    Tony de Mare Cooks for You

    You and a guest will be treated to a home cooked meal by Mr. de Mare, with a composer from The List in attendance. (amount over $375 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2015
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