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Los Angeles native David Lang holds degrees from Stanford University and the University of Iowa, and he received his doctorate from the Yale School of Music in 1989. He studied with Jacob Druckman, Hans Werner Henze, and Martin Bresnick. As a performer, Lang is best known as the co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s Bang on a Can music festival. His catalog includes operatic, orchestral, chamber, and solo works that cover wide-ranging expressive territory; he received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music for the little match girl passion.

death speaks was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Stanford Lively Arts last year to go on a program with the little match girl passion. To pick up where the passion left off, with the little sufferer transfigured in heaven, Lang turned to Schubert songs where death is personified and speaks to the living. He used excerpts from 32 Schubert songs, and set them anew in five songs with indie rock performers in mind. “Art songs have been moving out of classical music in the last many years — indie rock seems to be the place where Schubert's sensibilities now lie, a better match for direct storytelling and intimate emotionality,” Lang writes.