WorldView Episode 28: Lei Liang

    With more than one hundred published works exploring a myriad of topics and genres, Lei Liang is a modern composer renowned for his versatility. A Pulitzer Prize finalist and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, Liang is frequently commissioned and remains active as a writer for the orchestra and stage. 

     Lei Liang was born in Tianjin, China, in 1972. He began composing around age six, and many of these early works are still included in Chinese piano lessons and competitions. He moved to America in 1990 to study music at the New England Conservatory of Music, and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has held several faculty positions at schools internationally, including Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. 

     Liang’s style is often defined by his willingness to mix other disciplines and current events with his music. For example, recent chamber operas “Inheritance” and “Cuatro Corridos” grapple with topics of gun violence and sex trafficking, respectively. Another work, “Xiaoxiang (for saxophone and orchestra)” portrays the tragic experiences of a woman during the Chinese Cultural Revolution; the piece earned Liang a spot as a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The composer now serves as artistic director of the Chou Wen-Chung Music Research Center in China. 

     This episode of WorldView features Liang’s “Five Season (for pipa and string quartet).” The work was completed in 2014, and is written for the pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument somewhat similar to the lute. It has five movements, each related to a different natural phenomenon (illustrated by the soloist): Dew-Drop, Water-Play, Cicada Chorus, Leaves-Fall, and Drumming. In episode twenty-eight, “Five Seasons” is performed by the Shanghai Quartet and pipa player Wu Man. 


WorldView Episode Twenty-Eight Playlist:

Paul KONYE, “A Tone Poem for Africa”, {Millennium Symphony, Robert Ian Winstin – erm Media

Peter MAXWELL DAVIES, “Naxos Quartet No. 3”, {Maggini Quartet} – Naxos

Lei LIANG, “Five Seasons (for pipa and string quartet)”, {Shanghai Quartet, Wu Man (pipa)} – Naxos


WorldView is a classical music radio show featuring composers from everywhere in the world – except Western Europe. Tune in to hear works by lesser-known artists such as Irving Fine and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and widen your knowledge of classical music. Hinke Younger hosts each week’s episode of WorldView on Mondays at 9AM and 6PM (with a rebroadcast Saturdays at 2PM) on

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