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                                                                                  


June 5, 2023, Gift Launches Lei Lab at UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute. 

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.



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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