Awardee: Lei Liang

Performing Arts, 2016

Heralded as “one of the most exciting voices in New Music” (The Wire), Lei Liang is a Chinese-born American composer whose works have been described as “hauntingly beautiful” by The New York Times, and as “far, far out of the ordinary, brilliantly original and inarguably gorgeous” by The Washington Post. A finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music, Lei Liang is winner of the 2011 Rome Prize, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Koussevitzky Foundation Award from the Library of Congress. He was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the inaugural concert of the CONTACT! new music series. Lei Liang’s music is recorded on Naxos, New World, Bridge and Mode Records and published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation (New York). He serves as Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego.

Project: Inheritance

Inheritance is a chamber opera designed for a lead soprano plus three female voices and a chamber ensemble. This opera’s production will be housed within a multimedia environment that examines gun culture in America through the lens of Sarah Winchester’s life. According to popular belief, Winchester was an eccentric widow self-imprisoned in her labyrinth-like home and seeking refuge from the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. The legend surrounding her life, impossible to extract from her actual history, is indicative of America’s inability to separate fact and fiction within gun-debate discourse. Although the libretto for Inheritance is anchored in Winchester’s biography, this work explores her life and home as a metaphor for America’s violent legacy and deeply complex relationship with guns.