After graduating with her master’s degree from Juilliard in NYC, Heffter toured France as violist with the award winning Manfred String Quartet. With her travels came an appetite to write, and Heffter composed Eschapé, an impressionist flute quartet, premiered at Carnegie Recital Hall by the Anush Quartet, reviewed by the New York Times as “astonishingly beautiful … an homage to Ravel”. (Most recently performed at the National Opera Center for Chamber Music Center of NY )
Other classical commissions include the ballet Through the Looking Glass Darkly, performed at Harkness Dance Center by the Manhattan Ballet; Viola Suite in G, recently recorded by Concert Artist guild winner violist Jordan Bak; Eight Weeks in the Mountains, a comic opera performed at the Taos Music Festival in New Mexico; From Inside the Volcano, the synthetic symphony recorded in association with Kaleidesound of Berlin produced by Hiromi Abe (SONY) ; Opus 108, a duet for viola and cello, recorded by violist Dan Avshalomov (American String Quartet) and international solo cellist Raphael Jezerski; The Five Elements, song cycle for baritone, performed by John Tedeschi; Aaron and Cyma Stories for piano/flute/violin trio, sponsored by the Chamber Musicians at Great Gorge; Carbon Fiber String Quartet #1 premiered by the Calhoun Quartet at Mary Lea Johnson Theater in NYC/ recorded by Bordeaux String Quartet (sponsor Rudin Management, NY); Meadows of Gold, a fantasy for Violin & Piano premiered by Nikita Morozov and Martin Perry sponsored by Empire Opera with recording by violinist Anna Williams; Piano Trio From Deep Space premiered by the Neave Trio in Lenox, MA / performances in Boston and NYC’s Kaufman Center Merkin Hall; Flight Into the Stars of Infinity premiered in Brazil by cellist by Marjana Rutkowski; and Heffter’s furious duet RAGE for violin & piano with heartbreaking second movement played for Japan’s Fukushima Memorial concert; RAGE had its premiere in Lenox MA by violin extraordinaire Laura Goldberg and the great pianist Jeremy Reger; recorded by 2-time grammy nominee Joe Patrych.
As much of Heffter’s classical works are instrumental, she finds unparalleled fulfillment composing musicals and rock operas to include storytelling, where she can explore the arcs of emotion that come with everyday people getting caught in extraordinary circumstances. Even though these fantastic productions take years to create, she is compelled to write for stage using large ensembles, passionate characters, and original stories of great adventure.
Heffter’s first rock opera Atom & Eve packed the house for two staged readings at the Westbeth Theater in 1994, directed by Tom O’Horgan (Bernstein‘s Mass in G /Jesus Christ Superstar/Hair). Back then, she was very young for a pioneer, and there were no such things as rock operas …by the time Jonathan Larson’s Rent surfaced, other circumstances crowded Heffter’s musical life.
Decades later, Atom & Eve was given new breath with sponsorship by Sound Associates and Global Media Music starring Broadway’s Rob Evans and Dan’yelle Willamson. Recorded excerpts from Atom & Eve drew a commission from Canada’s TV/Movie Co. Salter Street Productions and Heffter composed the full musical score for the sung-thru musical Blood & Fire, This 21st century drama set in Victorian London had a sold out staged reading at the York Theater in spring of 2001, and then won a presentation in New York’s Spring 2002 Ascap/Disney Musical Theater Workshop Showcase, where Heffter’s songs were applauded by the panel as “Each song is a hit out of the ballpark …way out of the ballpark!”
Heffter was then hired by Daryl Roth Prd to write and record the full accompanying score for the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Esoterica starring Eric Walton. She also wrote incidental music for award winning off-Broadway productions of Beast on the Moon, Manuscript and contributed to the soundtrack of Will Ferrell’s Broadway hit show You’re Welcome, America.
Permission Heffter’s one-act rock opera about the struggles of a middle aged businessman who leaves all behind to discover unimaginable happiness, had a sold out two week run in NYC.
On a lighter note, Heffter’s “Oh! The Sport of Love” (mp3), a bawdy comic operetta (libretto) for mezzo-soprano and drunk chorus, has been performed from intimate parlors to starlit stages world wide. A performance in Beijing at the Yong-He Villas with hundreds of ex-pats in the audience for Doctors Without Borders brought down the house and filled the coiffures; an orchestrated staged performance w/chorus directed by L. Singer in NYC featuring mezzo soprano Margaret O’Connell and violinist Nikita Mozorov; also in NYC most recently at Manhattan Theater Rep, a simple production staged by director John Tedeschi, sung by Nancy Allen Lundy, accompanied by pianist Michael Fenelly and Violinist Gabriel Smith sold out the house both nights.
Heffter has written a treasure trove of pop/rock songs including (ruffsketchrecordings) “Joni” “Good Things ” “Nice Little Girls” “Wild Life“, the country song “Sweet Roxy“ and the running song “Stay in the Race“. Other songs tailored for special occasions: the wedding song “One Light“, and a “Lullabye“ .
“CRISPR” a musical theater pop song about the woes of 21st century dating, was written for singer Ashley Klanac, performed as a sketch for MuseMatch at Feinstein’s 54 Below. Click here to see performance
Mars 2076 original musical based on the American Revolution of 1776, has been in the making for the last decade as composer Lisa Heffter teamed up with writer Jean Witter to create an epic love story amidst the backdrop of revolution, romance, and red rocks.
Below, Lisa coaches talented CMC musicians outdoors on a September Saturday in Riverside Park.