Institute for Advanced Study and Cultural Colloquium of Collaboration, the IAS Research and Creative Collaborative, Present

Art and Science in the Age of Convergence

Part of IAS Thursdays
Past event
Dec 02, 2021
Lei Liang

Photo Credit: Alex Matthews
Lei Lang in front of his coral reef projects at the SunCave at the Qualcomm Institute

Lei LiangChancellor’s Distinguished Professor of MusicUniversity of California, San Diego

Lei Liang will discuss his most recent project, in which he collaborated with cultural heritage engineers, robotic engineers, data scientists, and software developers to explore the sonification of landscape paintings through a multimodal approach. This exploration led to creative efforts to preserve and reimagine our cultural and environmental heritage.



Heralded as “one of the most exciting voices in New Music” by The Wire magazine, Lei Liang 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.

The winner of the 2011 Rome Prize, Lei Liang is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland Award, a Koussevitzky Foundation Commission, a Creative Capital Award, and the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His concerto for saxophone and orchestra, Xiaoxiang, was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2015. His orchestral work, A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams, won the prestigious 2021 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

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 Fromm Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, MAP Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Taipei Chinese Orchestra, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Arditti Quartet, the Shanghai Quartet, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the New York New Music Ensemble, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. Lei Liang’s ten portrait discs are released on Naxos, New World, Mode, Albany, Encounter, BMOP/sound and Bridge Records. As a scholar and conservationist of cultural traditions, he edited and co-edited five books and editions, and published more than thirty articles.

From 2013-2016, Lei Liang served as Composer-in-Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology where his multimedia works preserve and reimagine cultural heritage through combining scientific research and advanced technology. In 2018, Liang returned to the Institute as its inaugural Research Artist-in-Residence.

Lei Liang’s recent works address issues of sex trafficking across the US-Mexican border (Cuatro Corridos), America’s complex relationship with gun and violence (Inheritance), and environmental awareness through the sonification of coral reefs. 

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 (B.M. and M.M.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.). A Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, he held fellowships from the Harvard Society of Fellows and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships. Lei Liang serves as the Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. His catalogue of more than a hundred compositions is published exclusively by Schott Music.

Part of IAS Thursdays