Derrick Wang is a composer, librettist, and lyricist, creating dramatic music for an interdisciplinary world. He also engages audiences as a speaker on music, law, creativity, and the role of the arts in contemporary society.
He is the composer and librettist of the interdisciplinary comic opera Scalia/Ginsburg, inspired by the opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. At its 2015 world premiere at the Castleton Festival founded by Lorin Maazel, Scalia/Ginsburg’s score was praised for its “laser-accurate” parody and “top-notch” versatility (Classical Voice North America), with selections described as “gorgeous” (DC Theatre Scene), “charming, clever, and amusing” (The Washington Post). The libretto of Scalia/Ginsburg was hailed as “brilliant” (DC Theatre Scene), “funny…and exceedingly clever” (Above the Law). The Los Angeles Times called Scalia/Ginsburg “funny…sweet and touching,” adding, “Could we please make it a constitutional requirement that no one can be sworn into office in the White House or Congress without first having seen Scalia/Ginsburg?”
Selections from Scalia/Ginsburg were first introduced at the Supreme Court of the United States in 2013 by National Public Radio (NPR)’s Nina Totenberg. Between then and the world premiere, excerpts from Scalia/Ginsburg were presented by the Washington National Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Castleton Festival, Maryland Opera Studio, Second Circuit Judicial Conference (co-sponsored by Columbia Law School, with artists from Opera Saratoga), National Constitution Center, and Stanford Arts Institute & Stanford Law School.
Throughout its journey, Scalia/Ginsburg has drawn significant attention to opera in the national and international press — as the subject of a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal, a three-page feature in the Süddeutsche Zeitung [Germany’s largest national subscription daily newspaper], and articles and interviews in outlets including the ABA Journal, Associated Press (AP), Bloomberg, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, The Economist, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, The New Republic, Opera Today, Der Standard [Austria], and The Washington Post. Scalia/Ginsburg has received further coverage in The New York Times, AARP The Magazine, and the ABC television program Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
As a composer, Derrick Wang has received awards from musical organizations including ASCAP and BMI. His compositions, played by groups ranging from the American Modern Ensemble to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, have been heard in venues from New York to Shanghai, and his orchestrations have been performed at Carnegie Hall and Juilliard.
As a librettist and lyricist for opera and theater, his words, set to his own music, have been performed at venues including the York Theatre, Ars Nova Theater, Joe’s Pub (New York Public Theater), Center Stage (Baltimore), Harvard University, and Yale University. He has also served as a Resident Artist (Composer-Librettist) at American Lyric Theater.
As a speaker on music, law, creativity, and the role of the arts in contemporary society, he has addressed select performing-arts audiences, legal organizations, and educational institutions in the United States and abroad. Recent appearances include presentations for the Second Circuit Judicial Conference (co-sponsored by Columbia Law School), National Constitution Center, Stanford Arts Institute & Stanford Law School, Berkeley Law, and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
Born in Maryland, he graduated from Gilman School while studying piano at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. He received his A.B. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in music from Harvard University and his Master of Music degree in composition on a Richardson Scholarship from the Yale School of Music. He also received his J.D. on a Houff Leadership Scholarship from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.