Born and raised in Zheng Zhou in Henan Province, China, she began playing piano at age five. From 1988–1993 she studied composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing for Du Mingxin. From 1996–1997 she was a postdoc at the same institution with Ye Xiaogang. In 1999 she traveled to Gothenburg to study for Ole Lützow-Holm at the University of Gothenburg’s Academy of Music and Drama, where she received her Diploma in composition in 2004. In 1998 her cello concerto The Mood of the End of the Year won the Audience’s Prize at the seventh Composition Competition in Taiwan.
Since 1988 Lei has composed some 30 pieces in various genres, from solo instrument to orchestral works.