The Meridian Arts Ensemble; Takae Ohnishi, harpsichord; Kate Hatmaker, Jeff Zehngut, violins; Chia-Ling Chien, cello; Pablo Gómez, guitar; The Radnofsky Quartet; John Fonville, Jane Rigler, flutes; June Han, harp; The Manhattan Sinfonietta; Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor; New England Conservatory Chamber Singers, Tamara Brooks, conductor; Lenny Bretton, Eric Hewitt, Conrad Kline, Shyen Lee, Samuel Lorber, Greg Ridlington, saxophones; Christopher DeChiara, Jeremy Friedman, Phillip Kiamie, Matthew Masie, Eric Millstein, Mei-Ying Ng, Gary Wallen, percussion; Van Weng, electric guitar; Jon Sakata, piano; Lei Liang, harpsichord/conductor
Lei Liang (b 1972) is a Chinese-born American composer whose work can be situated within the lineage of the new wave of Chinese composers (such as Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Tan Dun, Bright Sheng), yet whose vivid musical imagination and philosophical interests place him in a league of his own. The distinctiveness of his compositional approach, first and foremost, can be noted in Liang’s avoidance of exoticized Chinese elements: One would not find stylized quotations of familiar folksongs or clichéd treatment of instruments.
Born into the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and denied access to older traditions of art forms in China, Liang considers himself raised in a cultural and spiritual “ground zero.” Liang’s displacement from his homeland has led him to intensify his search for a deeper cultural connection to Asian musical practice and aesthetics at large, as his interests cover the Beijing opera, guqin (Chinese zither), Inner Mongolian music, as well as music of other parts of Asia. In searching for an appropriate framework for transforming these resources, he often embarks on a sonic exploration of a philosophical concept or idea to create music that contains multiple surfaces and trajectories for the listener to decipher.
On Milou Liang offers a labyrinth of sounds in musical space, deploying various modernist and avant-garde procedures (post-serial techniques involving canons, indeterminacy, extended techniques for acoustic instruments, spectral analysis) to express music as a form of ritual—its rich layers of meanings to be experienced and deciphered through the act of listening and reflection.