John Liberatore

John Liberatore

Faculty, Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition

PhD, Eastman School of Music
MM, Eastman School of Music
BM, Syracuse University

522 O'Neill Hall of Music and Sacred Music

Exploring intersections with poetry and other art media, music of composer John Liberatore has been performed in venues around the world: the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Four Seasons Center, and prestigious venues in Europe, Asia, and South America.   Described by critics as “enchanting” and “truly magical,” (Boston and New York Classical Review, respectively), his works seek complexity within simple textures, reaching for ambiguity through transparency.  In addition to his work as a composer, he is an active pianist, and one of the world’s few performers of the glass harmonica.

Leading ensembles and soloists have performed his work, including Dinosaur Annex, the Mivos Quartet, Bent Frequency, Duo Damiana, Earplay, the Cleveland Contemporary Players, the Washington National Opera, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and The New York Virtuoso Singers.  He has received fellowships from Tanglewood, the MacDowell Colony, the Brush Creek Arts Foundation, the I-Park Enclave, and Millay Colony.  Other notable distinctions include a commission from the American Opera Initiative, two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, and the Brian Israel Prize.  With funding from the Presser Foundation, he studied in Tokyo with Jo Kondo in the summer of 2012, a mentorship that made an indelible impression on his music.    Recordings of his piano music are available on Centaur Records, with forthcoming releases, funded by New Music USA and the Copland Fund, scheduled for release on Ravello, Innova, and Albany record labels in 2017/18.

In 2015, Liberatore commissioned glass blowers G. Finkenbeiner Inc. for a new glass harmonica; with this acquisition, he became one of the few exponents of this rare instrument in contemporary music. He is in the midst of electroacoustic experiments with the instrument, examining the susceptibility of its nearly sinusoidal timbre to certain FFT processing techniques.  This instrument will be the subject of forthcoming collaborations with percussionist Daniel Druckman and soprano Jamie Jordan, among others.

Liberatore is also active as a pianist, having performed at a number of national venues.  Most recently, he appeared at the PianoForte Foundation of Chicago, the Tenri Cultural Institute, the New York Electroacoustic Music Festival, the N_SEME Conference in Philadelphia, the Composition in Asia International Symposium in Tampa, and the Howard Hanson residency of Jo Kondo at Eastman.

He received his PhD from the Eastman School of Music in 2014, writing his dissertation on the aesthetics of Jo Kondo's piano work High Window.  While there, he was actively engaged in the production of new music, serving as president of the Ossia New Music Ensemble during the 2010-11 concert season, and producing and supporting concerts through his affiliation with the Eastman Computer Music Center.  He served as interim director of the ECMC during the 2012-13 academic year. He holds additional degrees from Syracuse University (B.M. summa cum laude), and Eastman (M.M.). 


In 2015, he was appointed assistant professor of theory and composition at the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate educator, he taught previously at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Syracuse University, and Eastman.