UC San Diego’s Lei Liang will be the focus of a Nov. 17 Composer Portraits concert at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. The series is dedicated to leading composers of new music.
Liang’s concert, which features fellow UC San Diego Department of Music faculty members Steven Schick (conductor) and Mark Dresser (contrabass), includes the world premiere of “Lakescape V,” a Miller Theatre co-commission. Also on the program: the New York premiere of “Luminous” (2014), Ascension (2008) and Serashi Fragments (2005).
Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey stated, “Lei Liang is one of the most celebrated voices in contemporary music, and it’s exciting to feature him in our Composer Portraits series.”
Liang’s concert, according to program notes, explores opposing forces while uniting “light and dark, paradise and inferno.” He composed “Lakescape V” for the loadbang ensemble, for trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet and baritone voice. The New York Times described a recent rehearsal and said that the opening section has “an effect like the passing of granular hail through funnel clouds.”
Liang, 43, has received numerous honors including a 2015 Koussevitzky Foundation grant, the 2011 Elliott Carter Rome Prize, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2008 Aaron Copland Award. His saxophone concerto “Xiaoxiang” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2015. His new CD “Luminous” is due for release next month and includes five recent compositions. It features UC San Diego music faculty Steven Schick, Mark Dresser, Aleck Karis, Erik Carlson and others.
Born in Tianjin, China, where he attended class not far from the Tiananmen Square protests, Liang came to the U.S. as a high school student. He earned degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music (B.M. and M.M.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.) and has studied composition with contemporary composers such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Robert Cogan, Chaya Czernowin, Mario Davidovsky and many others. Liang joined UC San Diego’s music faculty in 2007.
The Department of Music resides within the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego. The division recently moved up 10 spots to #23 in the recent rankings by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities. The Department of Music was founded by innovative composers who shared a belief that the most effective educational environment brings together the finest faculty with gifted graduate students in a challenging, supportive environment that encourages each student to find his or her own path. Today, the Department of Music offers graduate degree programs in Composition, Computer Music, Integrative Studies and Performance. It offers undergraduate programs that satisfy a wide range of interests for both music and non-music majors.