Climate change-inspired piece wins Grawemeyer music award
Chinese-American composer Lei Liang has won the 2020 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for an orchestral work evoking the threat posed by climate change and the opportunity it offers for redemption. Boston Modern Orchestra Project commissioned the winning piece, “A Thousand Mountains, a Million Streams,” which premiered in 2018 in Boston’s Jordan Hall with Gil Rose conducting.
“The world we live in today is dangerous,” Liang said. “Our very existence is threatened by global warming, which is causing violent disruptions to the living things on our planet and being made worse by human irresponsibility.”
Liang, 47, is a music professor at University of California, San Diego, and research-artist-in-residence at Qualcomm Institute, the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. He has composed more than 100 works, including pieces addressing other contemporary social issues such as human trafficking and gun violence.
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Ben Sollee '06
Cellist, singer songwriter, and composer, Sollee has released six albums. He has composed ballets and music for films and for stage. Sollee has performed at Carnegie Hall, toured in Europe, and has performed in the United States with the Charlotte Ballet and the North Carolina Dance Theater. His music incorporates banjo, guitar, and mandolin along with percussion and unusual cello techniques. Sollee’s songs exhibit a mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz, and R&B elements.
Sollee’s music can be heard in film and on television. Shows like ABC’s "Parenthood" and HBO’s "Weeds" have used his songs. In 2013, he was invited by director Mark Steven Johnson to write a song for the film "Killing Season," starring John Travolta and Robert De Niro.
In 2009, Sollee packed his touring life on to his bicycle. He rode over 5,000 miles by bike, towing his cello that he named Kay behind him as part of his Ditch the Van tour. Sollee complemented his musical releases with virtual reality app The Vanishing Point, film scores like Maidentrip, a technology-infused production of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and an interactive sculptural installation called “Livestream.”
Sollee is devoted to raising awareness of Mountain Top Removal Strip Mining in Central Appalachia. His 2010 collaborative album, "Dear Companion," brought together Kentucky artist Daniel Martin Moore and producer Jim James of My Morning Jacket to shed light on the issue. Sollee has also teamed up with international organizations such as Patagonia Clothing and Oxfam America to help raise awareness.
Ben and his wife Caitlin, and their son, reside in the Louisville area.
Emeritus Professor T.Y. (Tsung-Yao) Huang and Mrs. Mary Huang Music Awards Fund
Thanks to the generous gift from Emeritus Professor T.Y. (Tsung-Yao) Huang and Mrs. Mary Huang the UofL School of Music is able to hold 3 student competitions each year. The winners of the Aria, Concerto, and Composition competitions are presented with a monetary prize and a performance opportunity.
Dr. T.Y. Huang is emeritus professor in the Department of Radiology, who retired from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 2011. During his 32-year tenure at the University of Louisville Hospital, he served as a section chief of Neuroradiology and Vascular/Interventional radiology. Additionally, Dr. Huang was recognized with the Outstanding Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Man of the Hour Award. Dr. Huang and his wife, Mary Huang, who was a nurse and mid-wife, are avid supporters of the arts.
This year’s winners are: Andrew Durham for Aria, Derek Douglas Carter for Composition. And Murphy Lamb for Concerto.
Emeritus Professor T.Y. (Tsung-Yao) Huang and Mrs. Mary Huang Aria Competition
Andrew Durham is a senior undergraduate performance major studying voice from Paducah, Kentucky. Andrew plans to pursue a master’s degree in vocal performance.
“Growing up with two parents who are both music teachers, music has been my life and I have always loved being around and performing music. From being in orchestra, choir, and opera I’ve realized there is no emotion that cannot be portrayed or enhanced through music. It has been a vital part of culture from the beginning of time and it is a musician’s job to keep the music of today, and hundreds of years ago, alive for the next generation of artists.“
Emeritus Professor T.Y. (Tsung-Yao) Huang and Mrs. Mary Huang Concerto Competition
Murphy Lamb is a junior pursuing a BA in Music and Physics from Campbellsville, KY. His primary instrument is piano. Murphy plans to pursue a master’s degree in arts administration on completion of his bachelor’s degree.
“In my life, music has been a constant. It grounds and defines all my other endeavors and accomplishments. It has been a source of frustration and challenge at times, but has fostered a discipline and appreciation for the arts that I will always cherish. Music is, from my experience, one of the truest forms of expression and I will be forever grateful for the impact it has had on my life.“
Emeritus Professor T.Y. (Tsung-Yao) Huang and Mrs. Mary Huang Composition Competition
Derek Douglas Carter is an orchestral conducting graduate student from central Illinois. He received his master’s in composition from UofL and his bachelors of music composition and theory from Illinois State University.
“The idea behind the work is highly conceptual, as are most of the pieces in the dreamscape series. It’s about exploring concepts that can exist physically, and to tour structures that are multi-dimensional. I often imagine musical forms as architecture or museums, and listening to music as walking through those metaphorical buildings. So this dreamscape is built on that concept, while being extremely aware of the actual non-physical reality of sound.”