Mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor - the California native who won international attention as Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar (and who stars on the Grammy-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording) - was the first to sing Peter Lieberson's multiple prize-winning Neruda Songs after the 2006 death of the late composer's wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. O'Connor has since performed the song cycle more than a dozen times on both sides of the Atlantic, and now her interpretation of the Neruda Songs will appear on a recording by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, to be released June 28 on the orchestra's own label.
O'Connor was inspired by Hunt Lieberson's own disc of the Neruda Songs, of which she has said, "It's the most beautiful music I've ever heard. I have to sing this. I had an immediate connection." Since then, the Chicago Tribune has praised the young mezzo for bringing "a luster, sensitivity and grace of her own" to the Neruda Songs, while New York magazine extolled her for having "the visceral glimmer, excellent Spanish, and technique and tone to draw out the songs' surreal languor."
O'Connor was in Scotland performing the Neruda Songs when the composer passed away in April. She had worked closely with him before she first sang the songs, an experience she says was "life-changing." Read her blog tribute, All About Peter. Just before the release of her Neruda Songs CD, O'Connor will be at Lincoln Center in Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen with the New York Philharmonic in her first collaboration with Alan Gilbert (June 22-25).