How to Listen like a Composer
with David Lang
Offered in partnership with Carnegie Hall
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“Everybody can be a composer,” David Lang said in a recent interview. “When you hear [a piece of music] and you evaluate it and question whether or not it works for you, that’s composition… The impulse to judge when music satisfies is something everyone has.” This Master Class will strengthen that impulse as participants consider how composers make decisions and reflect on how those decisions affect the music we think we know. Why are the notes in that order? Why does the melody move from one instrument to another? What is the effect of that rest, of that change in key? Why did the composer choose to end the piece in this way? In thinking about these decisions and about our own reactions to the music, the idea that the composer knows more than his audience becomes irrelevant: Everybody can be a composer.

David Lang is one of America’s most performed composers. His opera, orchestra, chamber and solo compositions are varied and extensive. He is Musical America’s 2013 Composer of the Year and the recipient of Carnegie Hall’s Debs Composer’s Chair for 2013-2014. His little match girl passion, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Paul Hillier’s vocal ensemble Theater of Voices, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in music.