David Lang is one of America’s most performed composers. Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music — even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike. ACO has commissioned and premiered two works by Lang at Carnegie Hall: Bonehead in 1990 and how to pray in 2002. Lang’s the little match girl passion, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Paul Hillier’s vocal ensemble Theater of Voices, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for music as well as a 2010 Grammy for the subsequent recording. “There is no name yet for this kind of music,” wrote Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed of Lang’s work, “but audiences around the globe are hearing more and more of it.” Lang is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can. For more information about visit www.davidlangmusic.com.
statement to the court
ACO and The Crossing give the New York premiere of Lang’s work statement to the court, which sets a speech by Eugene Debs, the pioneering 19th century American Socialist and founder of the International Workers of the World, in which he addresses the court that has just found him guilty of sedition for speaking out against American participation in World War I. Lang explains, “What I love about this speech is that it is both critical of the political world the Debs lives in and at the same time optimistic about it. He sees the problems around him and yet is confident that through dedication things can be improved. I wanted to try to capture this duality of feeling in my setting of the text – the clear-eyed recognition that things are not what they should be, the hopefulness that, with hard work, things can be made a lot better.”