Australian Broadcasting Company interview

Sunday, July 21, 2019

click on player to listen

David Lang is one of New York’s most important contemporary composers. He’s not just in the concert halls - he’s out in the streets conducting citizens' choruses and mile-long outdoor operas. He's well known for being a co-founder of new music ensemble Bang On A Can. These days Lang is not afraid to re-work 'the greats'. His newest opera, which premiered in New York last month, is an adaptation of Beethoven's only opera Fidelio. Lang's prisoner of the state has a stronger social justice focus than the original, and tells the story of a woman's attempts to rescue her husband from political imprisonment. Humanity is a central concept to many of Lang's works. Back in 2008 Lang won a Pulitzer Prize for The Little Match Girl Passion, a choral piece which tells Hans Christian Andersen’s story in the format of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion. Instead of focusing on the suffering of Jesus as Bach did, Lang chose to highlight the Little Match Girl's short, tragic life and the society that witnessed it.