Composer and pianist Wang Lu writes music that reflects a very natural identification with influences from traditional Chinese music, urban environmental sounds, linguistic intonation and contours, and freely improvised traditions, through the prism of contemporary instrumental techniques and new sonic possibilities.
She is currently the David S. Josephson Assistant Professor of Music at Brown University, after receiving her doctoral degree in composition at Columbia University and graduating from the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. Wang Lu’s works have been performed internationally, by ensembles including the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Alarm Will Sound, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, Holland Symfonia, Shanghai National Chinese Orchestra, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Musiques Nouvelles, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, Third Sound, Yarn/Wire, Curious Chamber Players, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Argento, the Aizuri Quartet, the New York Virtuoso Singers, Momenta Quartet and violinists Miranda Cuckson, Jennifer Koh, and pianist Joel Fan among others.
Wang Lu has received the Berlin Prize in Music Composition (Spring 2019 residency) and was a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and she has received commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation at the Library of Congress and the Fromm Foundation at Harvard. She won first prize at Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s Young Composers Forum in 2010 and shared the Tactus International Young Composers Orchestra Forum Award in 2008. She was selected for a Tremplin commission by IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain in 2010 and the International Composition Seminar with the Ensemble Modern in 2012, and has also received two ASCAP Morton Gould awards.
Her music was programmed on festivals such as the 2014 New York Philharmonic Biennial, MATA Festival, Cresc. Biennale in Frankfurt, Gaudeamus Music Week, Tanglewood, Cabrillo Music Festival, Beijing Modern, Pacific and Takefu festivals in Japan, Mostly Mozart, Aspekte Festival in Salzburg, Mizzou International Composers Festival, and the Havana New Music Festival. She has also been a resident at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Collaborations have included an installation at Brown University’s Cohen Gallery with artist Polly Apfelbaum and an evening of poetry and music with poet Ocean Vuong. In 2019, her music was featured on portrait concerts at Miller Theater with ICE and Yarn/Wire, with Ensemble Recherche in Paris, and with Ensemble Mosaik plus soloists Ryan Muncy and Wu Wei in Berlin. Wang Lu’s recent compositions include a brass fanfare Code Switch for the opening of the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW 2019-20 season, a duet for Noh performer Ryoko Aoki and cello, a flute and electronic piece for Claire Chase’s Density 2036, a solo piano work for Shai Wosner in honor of I.M. Pei, a new work for the Longleash trio supported by New Music USA, and a new work for the Talea Ensemble commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University.
Wang Lu is the next Vanguard Emerging Opera Composer at the Chicago Opera Theatre starting in the Fall 2020. Her residency will conclude in 2022 with a full-length opera produced by the Chicago Opera Theatre.
Of her portrait album Urban Inventory, released in March 2018, Alex Ross wrote in the New Yorker, “I’ve listened at least a dozen times to the composer Wang Lu’s new album, “Urban Inventory” (New Focus Recordings), and remain happily lost in its riotous maze of ideas and images. Every moment is vividly etched, drenched in instrumental color, steeped in influences that range from ancient Chinese folk music to the latest detonations of the European avant-garde… The sense of loneliness that emerges at the end of “Cloud Intimacy” lurks behind all of Wang Lu’s meticulous frenzies: it is of a piece with the essential solitude of composing, of sitting in silence and dreaming of a music that has never been heard.”
Aftertouch is a MIDI keyboard parameter that senses the pressure applied to a key after it has been initially played. In this way, the volume, vibrato, or a filter can be manipulated and controlled for expressive ends.
Inspired by Claire Chase’s individualistic, virtuosic and kaleidoscopic playing, this work experiments with the boundless timbres she generates through gesture-based sound sculpting, improvisation, and the full spectrum of flute techniques, in dialogue with overlapping electronic beats. It grooves along simultaneously with artist Polly Apfelbaum’s floor projection of spinning singing bowls. Special thanks to electronics assistant Russell Greenberg.