Photo by Ron Jones

Photo by Ron Jones

Heralded as “one of the most exciting voices in New Music” by 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 and an Aaron Copland Award. He 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, the Heidelberger Philharmonisches Orchester, Thailand Philharmonic, Berkeley Symphony, the Fromm Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, the National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, New York New Music Ensemble and Boston Musica Viva. Liang’s music is recorded on Mode, New World, Innova, Telarc and Naxos Records. As a scholar he is active in the research and preservation of traditional Asian music.

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). He currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. Liang’s music is published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation (New York).

Liang was commissioned by SFCMP as part of Project TenFourteen – four concerts with world premieres from ten distinctive composers all challenged to “reflect upon and address the human condition, common to us all.”

From Liang:

Luminous (a chamber concerto for double bass, 2014) was inspired by Mark Dresser’s uniquely powerful musical expressions and innovative techniques created for the contrabass. The instrument’s rich spectra embody ‘voices’ that encompass extreme opposites – lightness and darkness, angels and ghosts, paradise and inferno – unified by a singular vibrating body.

“The composition explores these voices in a few large sections, starting with bowing on one string that produces multiphonics, double-stop bowing, and pizzicati. It concludes with the threading technique invented by Mark Dresser which allows the performer to bow multiple strings simultaneously.

“The last section is subtitled ‘The Answer Questioned’ as an homage to Charles Ives and György Kurtág.”