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Lei Liang

Lei Liang

Country of origin: China
Birthday: November 28, 1972

About Lei Liang

What raised the evening out of the ordinary - far, far out of the ordinary - was composer Lei Liang, who brought pipa and quartet together in a work so brilliantly original and inarguably gorgeous that the two may never be the same...Liang’s Five Seasons, a sonic tour de force from a composer not yet 40. (Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post)

Heralded as “one of the most exciting voices in New Music” (The Wire), Lei Liang (b.1972) is a Chinese-born American composer whose works have been described as “hauntingly beautiful and sonically colorful” by The New York Times, and as “far, far out of the ordinary, brilliantly original and inarguably gorgeous” by The Washington Post.

Winner of the 2011 Rome Prize, Lei Liang is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland Award, a Koussevitzky Foundation Commission and a Creative Capital Award. His concerto Xiaoxiang (for saxophone and orchestra) was named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music. He was awarded the 2021 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his orchestral work, A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams.

Lei Liang was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the inaugural concert of the CONTACT! new music series. Other commissions and performances come from the Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Heidelberger Philharmonisches Orchester, the Thailand Philharmonic, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, the Fromm Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, the National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Manhattan Sinfonietta, Arditti Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, New York New Music Ensemble and Boston Musica Viva. Lei Liang’s music is recorded on Naxos, Mode, New World, Bridge, Innova, and Telarc Records. As a scholar, he is active in the research and preservation of traditional Asian music.

Recent premieres include Luminous for solo contrabass and ensemble with Mark Dresser and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, led by Steven Schick, Song Recollections by the Formosa String Quartet, Inkscape for piano and percussion quartet, commissioned by Third Coast Percussion and the Percussion Ensembles of the Boston Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music, as well as Rose from the collaborative chamber opera Cuatro Corridos featuring Susan Narucki. During the 2016-2017 season, Liang received the premiere of Petal by Petal, Leaf by Leaf by the Myriad Trio and was featured on Miller Theatre’s Composer Portrait series at Columbia University which included the New York premiere of Luminous as well as the debut of Lakescape V for Loadbang. In the 2017-2018 season, Musicians from Yellow Barn, led by Seth Knopp, presented works from Liang’s Garden Series (for different instrumentations) paired with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Musical Offering, the acclaimed ZOFO piano duet commissioned and debuted Will you come to my dream? and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) gave the world premiere of A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams at Jordan Hall in Boston. During the summer of 2018, Lei Liang will serve as Composer-in-Residence at the Valencia International Performance Academy and Festival in Spain, the Bennington Chamber Music Conference in Vermont, and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School and Festival in Maine. In the 2018/19 season, Liang’s multimedia chamber opera Inheritance will receive its world premiere at the University of California, San Diego, commissioned and produced by Susan Narucki.

Lei Liang studied composition with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Robert Cogan, Chaya Czernowin, and Mario Davidovsky, and received degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music (BM and MM) and Harvard University (PhD). A Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, he held fellowships from Harvard Society of Fellows and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships, as well as a residency with Calit2's Qualcomm Institute at the University of California, San Diego. He taught in China as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Shaanxi Normal University College of Arts in Xi'an; served as Honorary Professor of Composition and Sound Design at Wuhan Conservatory of Music and as Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Middlebury College. Lei Liang currently serves as Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. Lei Liang's music is published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation (New York).



Born in Tianjin (China) on November 28
Began studies in the United States
Awarded the New England Conservatory George Whitefield Chadwick Medal and the Tourjée Alumni Scholarship Award
Named Junior Fellow at Harvard University Society of Fellows
Encounter Records releases "March Cathedral" featuring Liang’s Against Piano, Garden Eight, Garden Six, Dialectal Percussions, Feng, Extend, and Garden Nine
Recipient of a Harvard University Milton Fund grant
Awarded a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
Awarded a Heinrich Strobel Foundation bursary from the South West German Radio Experimentalstudio
Joins music faculty at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Recipient of a Fondazione William Walton Residency Award, as well as an Aaron Copland Award and ASCAPLUS Award
Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship

New York Philharmonic commissions and premieres Liang’s "Verge" as part of inaugural CONTACT! series

Mode Records releases "Brush-Stroke", featuring Liang’s "Serashi Fragments", "Some Empty Thoughts of a Person from Edo", "Memories of Xiaoxiang", "Trio", "In Praise of Shadows", "My Windows", and "Brush-Stroke".
Recipient of the Elliott Carter Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome

Taipei Chinese Orchestra premieres "Tremors of a Memory Chord" with pianist Pi-Hsien Chen.

New World Records releases portrait album "Milou", featuring "Ascension", "A Journey Into Desire", "Winged Creatures", "Yuan", "Lake", "Harp Concerto" and "Milou".
Received the Alpert/Ragdale Music Composition Prize

Naxos Records releases "Verge" featuring Liang’s "Aural Hypothesis", "Five Seasons", "Tremors of a Memory Chord" and "Verge" for 18 solo strings .
Chamber opera "Cuatro Corridos" premieres at UCSD with Susan Narucki, soprano; Aleck Karis, piano; Steven Schick, percussion and Pablo Gómez, guitar.

Named Composer-in-Residence at Calit2's Qualcomm Institute, University of California, San Diego
Boston Modern Orchestra Project premieres revised version of Xiaoxiang concerto for alto saxophone, with Gil Rose conducting and soloist Chien-Kwan Lin

Bridge Records releases portrait album “Bamboo Lights” including "Listening for Blossoms", "Lakescape", "Serashi Fragments", and "Bamboo Lights".

Yellow Barn hosts Lei Liang as composer-in-residence
Liang's "Xiaoxiang" Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Named full professor of Music at University of California, San Diego.

Awarded 2015 Koussevitzky Foundation Commission from the Library of Congress for "Song Recollections"

Mark Dresser premieres Liang's concerto for contrabass and ensemble "Luminous" with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, conducted by Steven Schick.
Columbia University's Miller Theatre honors Liang with a Composer Portraits Concert, featuring the New York premiere of "Luminous" and "Lakeside V" for Loadbang, commissioned by Miller Theatre.
Musicians from Yellow Barn present "Garden Series" for various instrumentations alongside J.S. Bach’s “Musical Offering” in Vermont and at Symphony Space in New York City.

The ZOFO Piano Duet (Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi) performs the world premiere of "Will you come to my dream?" at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as part of the ensemble’s commissioning program, ZOFOMOMA.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), led by Gil Rose, presents the world premiere of “A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams” at Jordan Hall in Boston.
University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for "A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams"