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'The Scarlet Letter,' 'Vedem' and 'The Three Feathers' With Composer Lori Laitman on Access Utah


Described by Fanfare Magazine as “one of the most talented and intriguing of living composers,” Lori Laitman has composed multiple operas and choral works, and over 250 songs, setting texts by classical and contemporary poets (including those who perished in the Holocaust). Her music is widely performed, internationally and throughout the United States, and has generated substantial critical acclaim. The Journal of Singing wrote “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.”

In May 2016, Opera Colorado presented the World Premiere of Laitman’s opera The Scarlet Letter, with a libretto by Colorado’s former Poet Laureate, David Mason.  Laura Claycomb, Dominic Armstrong and Malcolm MacKenzie starred in the production directed by Beth Greenberg and conducted by Ari Pelto. Of the CD, released by Naxos in August 2017, Gramophone Magazine wrote: “The first thing that leaps into one’s ears is the sheer beauty of the music. Laitman has devoted much of her career to the art song, and her ability to meld words with lyrical, often soaring lines is on abundant display in her … impressive and fervent opera.”

Credit Opera Colorado
Lori Laitman's opera "The Scarlet Letter" reimagines Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary classic.


Laitman and Mason also collaborated on Vedem, a Holocaust-themed oratorio commissioned by Music of Remembrance, and are currently developing the opera Ludlow, based on Mason’s award-winning verse novel about the 1914 Colorado mining town disaster.

Credit Holocaust Memorial Research and Education Center
In "Vedem: A Holocaust Oratorio," composer Lori Laitman incorporates poetry that circulated in a literary magazine published by prisoners at the Terezin concentration camp in the Czech Republic during the Holocaust.

The Three Feathers, Laitman’s children’s opera with librettist Dana Gioia, is based on a Grimm’s fairy tale and was commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, where it premiered in October 2015. An abridged version of the work has been commissioned by Seattle Opera and will be performed in the Seattle schools between January - June 2018.  Uncovered, Laitman’s opera in progress with librettist Leah Lax, based on her memoir, was a finalist for the 2018 Pellicciotti Opera Prize.

Credit Lori Laitman
In Lori Laitman's children's opera, "The Three Feathers," a magic feather leads the shy Princess Dora to the Underworld, ruled by the mysterious Frog King.

Laitman has received numerous prestigious commissions, including from Opera America, Opera Colorado, Seattle Opera, Washington Master Chorale, Music of Remembrance, The Howard Hanson Institute for American Music, The Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership and The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

A magna cum laude Yale College graduate with an MM from The Yale School of Music, Laitman has been featured on Thomas Hampson’s Song of America radio series and website and in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. For more information, please visit


Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.