David Lang’s true pearl: an opera in five tapestries (with libretto by Sybil Kempson), is inspired by Isabella Stewart Gardner’s sixteenth-century tapestries that tell the story of the first king of Persia, Cyrus the Great. The five-part “in-ear opera” is a private experience, available only through headphones in the Museum’s Tapestry Room. The “stage set” for each scene is an individual tapestry from the Cyrus series, and listeners are immediately immersed into tales of empire building and passion.

true pearl is premiered on October 4 by vocal project Roomful of Teeth and the Callithumpian Consort ensemble, conducted by Stephen Drury.

Please go here for more information on this one and only live performance of the work.


This season, the New York Philharmonic concludes their three-week-long Music of Conscience initiative, as well as their subscription season, with the world premiere of David Lang’s opera prisoner of the state on June 6–8, 2019, conducted by their new Music Director Jaap van Zweden. Co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Rotterdam's de Doelen Concert Hall, London’s Barbican Centre, Barcelona’s l’Auditori, Bochum Symphony Orchestra, and Bruges’s Concertgebouw, prisoner of the state is the story of a woman who disguises herself as a prison guard to rescue her husband from unjust political imprisonment.


I became a composer because, when I was nine years old, I saw a movie of Leonard Bernstein conducting Shostakovich’s First Symphony with the New York Philharmonic. I fell in love immediately with the music of Shostakovich, with the idea of being a composer, with the orchestra itself. I was so in love with Shostakovich, in fact, that I immersed myself in his music, and then all Russian music, then I studied the Russian language in school, I read all the Russian literature I could find, and I spent the summer of 1975 studying in the Soviet Union.


Listen to a "mixtape" produced by Björk that includes two excerpts by David Lang! death speaks and sweet air! enjoy!


<!-- VIDEO FILTER - INVALID CODEC IN: [VIDEO] --> watch excerpts from LMGP


On October 27, 2007 Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices premiered David Lang's the little match girl passion in Carnegie Hall. The composition won Lang a Pulitzer Prize, the recording won a Grammy Award, and the score has since become one of the most performed new works in the world.

Staged by Glimmerglass Opera and Portland Opera, choreographed by the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet, with theatrical productions in Moscow, London, Edinburgh, and Sydney, it has been performed over 400 times across 35 countries.


On February 8, in Benaryoa Hall, conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony premiere David Lang's first symphony: symphony without a hero, commissioned for the Seattle Symphony by the Lynn and Brian Grant Family. The 27-minute work is in one movement, with two related parts — two separate musical movements that are performed simultaneously: one heavy and oppressive and one light and hopeful. Lang explains that one doesn't "really hear the light and hopeful music until the oppressive movement ends." 

August 1-2, conductor Louis Langrée with Sō Percussion and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, give the New York premiere of David Lang's man made. In this percussion quartet concerto, Lang combines found percussion (sticks, pipes, metal trash) with orchestral instruments in a unique and incredibly compelling work commissioned by the Barbican Centre and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Watch a video about the concerto with Lang and So Percussion.

Lang comments on the concerto:


On April 25-27, at the Garnisonskirken in Copenhagen, the Theatre of Voices with condutor Paul Hillier present music from the film The Great Beauty by director Paolo Sorrentino, featuring music by David Lang.

Lang's i lie, wed, head hear, and Simple Song #3 (from Sorrentino's YOUTH) will be performed alondside works by Arvo Pärt and Jóhann Jóhannson. 

just (after song of songs)

Now featured on the international bestselling album I See You by British band The xx.

Listen to The xx here

Listen to Lang's original work here

See the UK premiere at the Royal College of Music

Perform just (after song of songs) with your ensemble!

From January 7-14, the Prototype Festival presents the New York premiere of David Lang's anatomy theater, co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, with set design by Mark Dion, direction by Bob McGrath, conductor Christopher Rountree and the International Contemporary Ensemble, plus Bill Morrison (video), Laurie Olinder (projection), Christopher Kuhl (lighting), and Alixandra Gage Englund (costumes).

Based on actual 18th-century texts, anatomy theater follows the astonishing progression of an English murderess: from confession to execution and, ultimately, public dissection before a paying audience of fascinated onlookers. Through the miracle of opera, she sings through it all.


By David Lang

September 22, 2016



click to read the NYT review

“...the score is a model of how music can animate words. The text is set with impressive clarity, and Mr. Gilfry sings every phrase with crisp diction and dramatic point, delivering phrases with virile energy, sudden bluster, or, during vulnerable moments, an aching confusion that takes you by surprise.”
— Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

David Lang's the loser

the loser September 7-11, 2016. Brooklyn Academy of Music. Gilman Opera House.

He appears to float in the nothingness. Confined to a tall tower 20 feet above the seats, he is alone, broken, and has a story to tell.


On August 13, David Lang's the public domain was given its world premiere at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival.

Read a selection of reviews of the performance, plus video of the show from the NY Times:

click here for New York Times review.

video from NY Times livestream:

NPR review:

On August 13, The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center gives the world premiere of David Lang's the public domain — a performance that not only welcomes the public as a free and open event, but will also be performed by the public. A piece inspired by the theme of the collective knowledge shared amongst us all, the new work is performed by 1,000 volunteer vocalists from throughout New York City, conducted by Simon Halsey, Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

The Mostly Mozart Festival presentation of the public domain is made possible in part by the generous support of Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

David Lang's Simple Song #3, written as part of the score for the film Youth by Paolo Sorrentino, has been nominated for a 2016 Oscar for Best Original Song.


watch a featurette on Lang's music in Youth.

David Lang's Simple Song #3, written for Paolo Sorrentino's film Youth, has been nominated for a 2016 Golden Globe for Best Original Song


Hi! David Lang here. I am very excited that today is the world premiere CD release of my opera the difficulty of crossing a field.  It is my most favorite piece that I have ever written, ever.  I mean it.  I am so happy about this CD.

Please click here to listen to the CD (password: Crossing2015) and here to buy the CD or the download!

And you can click here to listen to a podcast about it!


March 6 and 7, David Lang curates the 2015 New Music Dublin festival What?…Wow: David Lang’s Festival of Music

click for a free download of Lang's most recent choral work,
when we were children — a setting of a text from Saint Paul

Since winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, David Lang's the little match girl passion has quickly joined the repertoire as a chamber work, a staged production, a work for full chorus, and a featured event on Christmas and Easter concerts around the world. Indeed, it has become a contemporary choral classic, having been sung more than 200 times in 28 countries. 



From September 19-21, David Lang is the composer-in-residence at the Carlsbad Music Festival, with his music being featured throughout the festival, including the US premiere of his choral work when we were children, performed by Sacra/Profana.

The festival also features the new string orchestra, Renga, conducted and organized by Steve Schick, in a performance of darker.

As well, Donald  Crockett and the USC Thornton Edge Ensemble performs increase.


David Lang is the composer-in-residence at Rotterdam's de Doelen center, with 11 concerts featuring Lang's music throughout the 2014/15 season:


David Lang Collected Stories Video

As part of the 2013/2014 Debs Chair composer-in-residence at Carnegie Hall, David Lang has curated an amazing series of concerts to focus on the art of storytelling in music. From April 22-29, Carnegie Hall presents: Collected Stories

Lang comments on the mini-festival:

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