works
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David Lang

love fail (2012) 60'

Text by David Lang (after Lydia Davis, Marie de France, Gottfried von Strassburg, Béroul, Thomas of Britain and Richard Wagner)

SSAA playing simple percussion instruments

love fail was co-commissioned by The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2012 Next Wave Festival, The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, The John F. Kennedy Center Abe Fortas Memorial Fund, The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, The Secrest Artists Series at Wake Forest University, and Hancher Performances at the University of Iowa. Movement 4, 'the wood and the vine', was commissioned by The Newman Center for the Performing Arts at University of Denver, The University of California at Riverside, and the Santa Fe Concert Association in Santa FE, NM. Movement 10, 'I live in pain', in a different version, was originally written for “TheCrossing,” Donald Nally, conductor.

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love fail premieres at Yale

Lang’s newest work, love fail, premieres June 29 at the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Performed by the legendary vocal ensemble Anonymous 4, love fail is an evening-length work that weaves together snippets of medieval courtly love narratives, short stories by MacArthur Fellow Lydia Davis, scraps from the libretto of Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde, and text by Lang himself.

Out of these sources, Lang has conjured a single story, in which two unnamed lovers meet each other, love each other, and lose each other—not necessarily in that order…

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interviews

Big risks and adventurous friends: How composer Julia Wolfe became a renegade

September 15, 2022
NPR Music
Editors’ Picks

Sometimes, all you need is a little push. In the fall of 1976, when Julia Wolfe arrived at the University of Michigan from Pennsylvania, she was just 17 and viewed herself as a “wild teenager” with her sights on social sciences and politics. Activism was a possible path. Music wasn’t on her radar.

But one day, a friend coaxed Wolfe into taking a peculiar music class, taught by a forward-thinking Quaker who didn’t care how much you knew about composing…

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interviews

Philadelphia Inquirer

November 15, 2009

By David Patrick Stearns

NEW YORK — Among downtown New York composers, few stick so relentlessly to the cutting edge as Julia Wolfe.

Now 50, she recently wrote a piece for nine bagpipes that sent her two children running for cover in her SoHo loft. Even her husband, Michael Gordon, who with her cofounded the composer collective Bang on a Can, has been moving toward more mainstream music for opera and film…

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interviews

The New York Times

February 1, 2011

By Allan Kozinn

Like most composers, Julia Wolfe is often in two places at once psychically: working on new pieces (with working defined as anything from cogitating and experimenting to actually putting the notes on paper) but also seeing that the backlist is getting attention. In recent weeks she has been putting the finishing touches on “Iron Maiden,” a new solo work for the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and working on “Combat de Boxe,” for the Asko Ensemble of the Netherlands…

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‘death speaks’ CD released

“Art songs have been moving out of classical music in the last many years,” writes composer David Lang. “Indie rock seems to be the place where Schubert’s sensibilities now lie, a better match for direct story telling and intimate emotionality.”

Lang’s death speaks, along with his work depart, is released on Cantaloupe music on April 30.

Click to purchase the recording

In death speaks — co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Stanford Lively Arts, and written for Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, Owen Pallett and Shara Worden — Lang explores art song with the help of a group of classically trained artists who made their careers in the indie rock world…

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writing

Slate.com

December 9, 2015

I had two jobs my senior year in high school—a music-related job and a film-related job. All these years later, both are on my mind, since I have been spending time in Los Angeles helping to promote Paolo Sorrentino’s new film Youth, for which I wrote the music

I live in New York, but I grew up in Los Angeles, in Westwood, which is the neighborhood that surrounds UCLA. These days Westwood is a kind of anonymous shopping district, but in 1973, when I worked there, it still felt like a college town…

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