Lei Liang

Photo by Alex Matthews

The music of Chinese-American composer Lei Liang combines East and West in a colorful and dramatic fusion. His versatility ranges from brilliant orchestral and theatrical works to gentle chamber pieces. He is a master craftsman and orchestrator, yet the lasting tone of his music is nuanced and intimate, as if everything depended on the perfectly shaped gesture.

- The American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2021 More Reviews


April 15, 2021, Lei Liang receives the 2021 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Watch his acceptance speech here.

Feb 22, 2021, Lei Liang receives the American Academy of Arts and Letters Music Award. Read San Diego Union Tribune article here.

July 1, 2020, UC San Diego appoints Lei Liang as the Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Music. Read UCSD News here.

Jun 24, 2020, Albany Records releases Lei's chamber opera Inheritance, featuring soprano Susan Narucki. Order it here.

Jun 23, 2020, Shanghai Conservatory of Music Press - one of the leading music publishers in China - publishes Confluence of A Hundred Streams: Narrating the Soundscapes of Lei Liang (ed. Qin Luo). Order it here.



  • August 2, 2022: Putney, VT
    Lakescape III (for 2 violas), Lara Albesano, Maria Lambros, violas, Yellow Barn Music Festival, The Big Barn

  • August 5, 2022: Melbourne, Australia
    Trio (piano, cello and percussion), Australian National Academy of Music, Abbotsford Convent

  • August 6, 2022: Putney, VT
    Trans (percussion and audience), Eduardo Leandro, percussion, Yellow Barn Music Festival, The Big Barn

  • September 9, 2022: Cambridge, MA
    Lake (version for soprano and trumpet), Byrne:Kozar:Duo, Edward Pickman Hall, Longy School of Music

  • September 14, 2022: San Diego, CA
    Lecture, San Diego State University, Music Department

  • Oct 1, 2022: Washington DC
    Gobi Gloria (string quartet), Formosa Quartet, Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian

  • Oct 14, 2022: Bowling Green, OH
    Memories of Xiaoxiang (alto saxophone and tape), John Sampen, saxophone, 43rd Annual Bowling Green New Music Festival, Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center, Bowling Green State University

  • Oct 15, 2022: La Jolla, CA
    Six Seasons (string quartet and electronics), world premiere, Mivos Quartet, ArtPower, Experimental Theater, Conrad Prebys Music Center, University of California, San Diego

  • Oct 19, 2022: San Diego, CA
    Bamboo Lights (chamber orchestra), Elena Schwarz, conductor, San Diego Symphony, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

  • Oct 21, 2022: La Jolla, CA
    Bamboo Lights (chamber orchestra), Elena Schwarz, conductor, San Diego Symphony, The Epstein Family Amphitheater

  • Oct 27, 2022: Brisbane City, Australia
    Gobi Canticle (violin and cello), Jason and Kirsten Tong, Museum of Brisbane

  • November 3, 2022: New York, NY
    Lecture, New York University, Music Department

  • January 20, 2023: Philadelphia, PA
    Mother's Songs (pipa and viola), Wu Man and Hsin-Yun Huang, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

  • January 22, 2023: Albany, NY
    Mother's Songs (pipa and viola), Wu Man and Hsin-Yun Huang, Capital Region Classics

  • April 15, 2023: New York, NY
    A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams (orchestra), Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, conductor, Carnegie Hall

  • May 6, 2023: Boston, MA
    Mother's Songs (pipa and viola), Wu Man and Hsin-Yun Huang, Jordan Hall

  • June 11 -25, 2023: Cambridge, MA
    Composer-in-Residence at the Divergent Studio, Longy School of Music

  • Oct 26, 2023: Bloomington, IN
    Composer-in-Residence at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University

Complete Listing


The world premiere of Inheritance, a new chamber opera by Lei Liang, was described as "unusually powerful" (New Music Box), "groundbreaking," "unique and compelling" (San Diego Union Tribune)

Inheritance revolves around the bizarre life of Sarah Winchester, the eccentric widow and heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. According to popular belief, Winchester imprisoned herself in her labyrinth-like home to seek refuge from the spirits of those killed by the same weapons whose manufacture and sale gave her a life of indescribable wealth. Inheritance juxtaposes elements of Winchester’s biography with contemporary events in a work that explores America’s deeply complex relationship with guns. Watch a short trailer, or read more about the opera here.


Photo by Emily Zheng


The performances are, without exception, stellar. But they’d have to be: Lei Liang’s scores seem to demand one delicately constructed dramatic gesture after another. Stephen Drury’s Callithumpian Consort scintillates in the brilliantly colored Aural Hypothesis for small ensemble, and Five Seasons stars Wu Man, rockstar of the lute-like Chinese pipa, alongside the Shanghai Quartet. Passionately, but precisely, these interpreters make a powerful case for Lei Liang as a composer with the ears and the ingenuity to construct a boundless, and boundlessly thrilling, new music.

- Daniel Stephen Johnson, New York Public Radio WQXR Q2, Music Album of the Week (Dec. 24, 2012)

While Lei Liang's opera must obviously be seen to be fully experienced, especially given the press of current events, so sensitively and imaginatively does he mix and match his kaleidoscopic sonic palette to Matt Donovan's evocative, numerology-driven libretto, the quartet of voices, the curious ensembles and the electronics that keep the highly charged narrative makes a deep impression even without the stagecraft.

- Laurence Vittes, Gramophone (2020)

Lei Liang’s Verge is a gripping and engaging work for 18 solo strings, which are taken full advantage of in their timbre and potential for sound. The music here stands out among many new records for its vitality and directness…

- George Adams, American Record Guide (May 2013)

Complete Discography