ASCAP Composer Lei Liang Wins Grawemeyer Award

December 11, 2019

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Lei Liang. Photo by Alex Matthews.

We are thrilled to congratulate ASCAP composer Lei Liang on winning the 2020 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his piece “A Thousand Mountains, a Million Streams” - an orchestral work that evokes the threat posed by climate change and the opportunity it offers for redemption. The Grawemeyer Awards program at the University of Louisville pays tribute to the power of creative ideas, emphasizing the impact a single idea can have on the world.

Boston Modern Orchestra Project commissioned the winning piece, which premiered in 2018 in Boston’s Jordan Hall with Gil Rose conducting.

“The world we live in today is dangerous,” Liang said. “Our very existence is threatened by global warming, which is causing violent disruptions to the living things on our planet and being made worse by human irresponsibility.”

The half-hour piece takes listeners on a journey through a virtual landscape that first sings and dances but later jolts and collapses into fragments. Near the end, the sound of rain emerges and resurrects nature.

“When creating the work, I wanted to convey the importance of preserving our landscapes, both physically and spiritually, to sustain a place where we and our children can belong,” he said.

Liang is a music professor at University of California, San Diego, and research-artist-in-residence at Qualcomm Institute, the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.  He has composed more than 100 works, including pieces addressing other contemporary social issues such as human trafficking and gun violence.

“Liang’s piece, which explores a huge range of emotions and ends with both hope and ambiguity, has a forceful, convincing arc and wonderful orchestral colors,” said Marc Satterwhite, music award director. “Like some of our other winners, he challenges people inside and outside the field of music to ponder important things, even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.”

Learn more about Lei Liang at his website.