Steve Lehman, composer

Steve Lehman headshot

Described as “a state-of-the-art musical thinker” and a “dazzling saxophonist,” by The New York Times, Steve Lehman is a composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms. Lehman’s pieces for large orchestra and chamber ensembles have been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, So Percussion, American Composers Orchestra, the JACK Quartet, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and the Talea Ensemble. His recent recording, Mise en Abîme (Pi, 2014) was called the #1 Jazz Album of the year by NPR Music and The Los Angeles Times. And his previous recording, Travail, Transformation & Flow (Pi, 2009), was chosen as the #1 Jazz Album of the year by The New York Times.

The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, Lehman is an alto saxophonist who has performed and recorded nationally and internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Bennie Maupin, Jason Moran, Georgia-Anne Muldrow, George Lewis, and Meshell Ndegeocello, among many others.

He is currently Professor of Music at The California Institute of the Arts, and lives in Los Angeles.

Steve Lehman's piece La Vida Es Sueño premiered with the Grossman Ensemble on June 7, 2019

Performance notes: 

La Vida Es Sueño—named in homage to Calderón de la Barca’s celebrated play from 1635—is a work inspired by the nature and the structure of dreams. What is the sound of an imaginary landscape? Or the feeling of a mythological folk music? This piece explores these questions and seeks to create a sequence of otherworldly sonorities through the use of scordatura (non-standard) tunings in the harp and the vibraphone. Sonic objects and instrumental gestures are introduced, 5 re-introduced, and juxtaposed in new ways throughout the piece, in an effort to evoke a non-linear, dreamlike structure that eschews any true teleology.

La Vida es Sueño by Steve Lehman