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Posts tagged 'Lei Liang'

Lei Liang Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre


(Lei Liang, photo: Howard Lipin)

On November 17th, Miller Theatre at Columbia University will present a Portrait Concert of composer Lei Liang. With performances by the JACK Quartet, loadbang, bassist Mark Dresser and with Steven Schick conducting, this concert will feature the New York premiere of Liang's concerto for double bass and ensemble Luminous (2014), as well as the World Premiere of Lakescape V, a new work commissioned by Miller Theatre and dedicated to loadbang. 

(Excerpt from Luminous, performed by Mark Dresser, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Steven Shick, conductor)

Liang's work is often influenced by traditional Chinese music—from Opera, to Mongolian throat singing, to instruments such as the guqin, an ancient zither—and brings these influences to bear on decidedly idiosyncratic, flexible concepts such as "one note polyphony", shadows, breathing, and transformation. As Paul Griffiths writes, "he breaths, so to say, from both of his lungs." The concert program features works from throughout Liang's career that illustrate and sonify these conceps, including Ascension, for brass quintet and percussion, and Serashi Fragments, for string quartet, along with Luminous and Lakescape V

                
(pages from Lei Liang's Luminous)

The Lakescape series encapsulates many of Liang's diverse interests. At a Mahayana Buddhist monastery in upstate New York, Liang observed a beaver swimming through a lake's placid surface; this led him to realize, in his words, that "underneath the music I write is a profoundly deep silence upon which I seek to inscribe my signature through sound."

In anticipation of the portrait concert, check out a video from the world premiere of Liang's recent string quartet Song Recollections, performed by the Formosa Quartet: 

Contemporary Piano Video Library features Lei Liang's "Garden Eight"

Lei Liang's Garden Eight, for solo piano, has recently been featured as part of pianist Ricardo Descalzo's Contemporary Piano Video Library, a project that spotlights contemporary piano repertoire with video recorded performances and commentary. In his feature on Garden Eight, Descalzo writes, 

This is a collection of eight short pieces that are not intended to evolve from one to another. Rather, they are like different views of the same landscape. [Quoting Liang:] ”These pieces are musical gardens. To perform one of them is to walk through a garden of sounds… ”

Liang composed his Garden Eight, originally for any solo instrument, using only six pitches and six relative durations (and dedicated to a friend whom Liang had seen six times before composing the work). The work is part of Liang's larger "Garden" series (including Garden Six for saxophone sextet, and Garden Nine for singers, piano and rocks), which serves as a tribute to the Ming Dynasty Yuen Yeh (the earliest and most exquisite Chinese horticultural treatise). Liang writes that "gardens, in this discourse, are not treated as a confined enclosure, but as an extended environment. A Chinese garden is a visual world as well as a world of other senses."


(Garden Six, performed by New England Conservatory Saxophone Ensemble)

Descalzo's performance and video documentary delicately captures this essential quality in Garden Eight. Check out the film, above, and visit Descalzo's Contemporary Piano Video Library for more video performances and commentary, including a feature on Karen Tanaka's Crystalline II.

Lei Liang: Deriving Worlds

What would it mean to listen to a painting? What is the relationship between landscape, memory, gesture, vision, and sound—and how can technology help us begin to answer this question? Lei Liang has been exploring these intersections in his musical compositions: Brush-Stroke, In Praise of Shadows, and Listening for Blossoms all enmesh Liang's visual and perceptual experience with his own sonic world. Now, Liang has embarked on an ambitious project to combine this composerly practice with contemporary science, engineering, and technology, resulting in a three-part composition entitled Hearing Landscapes.

(Liang studies multi-spectral scans of Huang Binhong painting; © Alex Matthews)

As a composer-in-residence at the University of San Diego's Qualcomm Institute since 2014, Liang has been working on a project that explores the correlations between sound and vision in traditional Chinese art. "Hearing Landscapes" begins with the paintings of Huang Binhong, a chinese painter whose freehand calligraphic landscapes continued the long tradition of ink-wash painting that dates back to the Tang dynasty into the 1950s. With support from the Mozhai Foundation, who loaned Liang artworks by Huang Binhong, and several grants from the National Science Foundation and the Calit2 Strategic Research Opportunities award, Liang and a team of scientists and engineers produced ultra-high resolution, multi-spectral scans of Binhong's works. From these scans, Liang and another team of engineers produced software to translate Binhong's brush-strokes into the sonic world of spatialized, granular synthesis, which Liang uses in his three-part electro-acoustic composition, Hearing Landscapes

A new documentary has just been released that features excerpts from "Water and Mist", one of the three parts of Liang's Hearing Landscapes, alongside interviews with the project team and stunning footage of the project. Watch the film above, and check out a performance of Liang's Brush-Stroke with the Callithumpian Consort, below: 

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