Derrick Wang, a composer, lawyer, dramatist, and scholar exploring the future of law, music, and theater, joins the Peabody professional studies faculty in the fall of 2017. At Peabody, he will teach new interdisciplinary courses on law and music at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
He is the composer and librettist of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, inspired by the opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Scalia/Ginsburg was first introduced to the public by National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg in 2013, when Wang was invited to present selections at the Supreme Court before Justices Ginsburg and Scalia. At its 2015 world premiere at Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival, Scalia/Ginsburg was hailed by both arts critics and legal commentators as “brilliant…gorgeous” (DC Theatre Scene), “funny, exceedingly clever” (Above the Law), “laser-accurate…top-notch” (Classical Voice North America), and “tuneful…accessible…smart…a triumph” (The American Interest). The Los Angeles Times wrote: “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?”
His libretto to Scalia/Ginsburg, containing over 200 footnotes to legal and musical precedent, was published in the Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts with prefaces by Justices Ginsburg and Scalia. Selections from the libretto are also published in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s book My Own Words as the chapter “The Scalia/Ginsburg Opera,” which he narrates and performs in its audiobook version.
Scalia/Ginsburg will next be seen at The Glimmerglass Festival in August 2017, in an updated version starring acclaimed tenor William Burden in the role of Justice Scalia.
Wang’s work 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 illustrated feature in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany’s largest national subscription daily newspaper), and articles and interviews in outlets including the ABA Journal, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (Poland), The Economist, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, The New Republic, Opera Today, Der Standard (Austria), and The Washington Post. His work 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, Wang has received awards from musical organizations including American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc. His compositions – presented by artists and groups including the American Modern Ensemble, Castleton Festival, Maryland Opera Studio, Opera Saratoga, Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale, Washington National Opera, and 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 scholar and speaker on law and the arts, he has addressed select performing-arts audiences, legal organizations, and educational institutions in the United States and abroad, including TEDxBroadway, the Second Circuit Judicial Conference (co-sponsored by Columbia Law School), National Constitution Center, Stanford Arts Institute & Stanford Law School, and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
As an attorney, he is Of Counsel at Thomas & Libowitz, P.A., where he advises creative clients in all industries as they launch, run, and grow their ventures. He has also spent time at premier Silicon Valley startup accelerator Y Combinator, where he shadowed a group of over 100 startups while researching the creativity of tech entrepreneurship.
Born in Maryland, he graduated from Gilman School while studying piano at the Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He received his AB (Bachelor of Arts) magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in music from Harvard University; his Master of Music degree in Composition on a Richardson Scholarship from the Yale School of Music; and his Juris Doctor (JD) degree on a Houff Leadership Scholarship from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.