UC San Diego Music Professor Finalist for Pultizer Prize for Music

A San Diego resident’s work was on the shortlist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

UC San Diego music professor and Qualcomm Institute composer in resident Lei Laing was one of three finalists for the 2015 prize with his piece "Xiaoxiang," which was announced Monday.

The concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra, inspired by China’s Hunan Province where the Xiao and Xiang rivers intersect, missed out on the prize. Julia Wolfe won for her folk-classical hybrid oratorio "Anthracite Fields" about coal miners.

Liang wrote the concerto to commemorate a tragic event that happened during the Cultural Revolution in China.

"A woman's husband was killed by a local official," Liang said in a statement. "Without the means to seek justice, she decided to take revenge on the official by wailing like a ghost in the forest behind the official's residence every evening. Months later, both the official and the woman went insane."

The composer used electronically altered sounds to mimic the ghostly wailing. Throughout the concerto, Liang re-synthesizes electronic sounds through an orchestra.

John Xorn’s The Aristos was also a finalist.

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