contemporary chamber music [performance + composition + research]

Tonia Ko Joins nnSF16 as Composer-in-Residence

We are thrilled to announce that Tonia Ko will join us as Composer-in-Residence for the first week of the 2016 nief-norf Summer Festival! 

TONIA KO, composer

Photo: Matt Dine

Photo: Matt Dine

26-year-old American composer Tonia Ko has been lauded for her bold and original compositions. Her work strives to capture the poetics and emotions behind small visual details in everyday life. As the 2015-2017 Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence, Ms. Ko receives a commission to write a work for pianist Daniel Lebhardt, who will premiere the work in his recital debuts in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York and at the Kennedy Center this season. She will receive a second commission for a work to be premiered in the 2016-17 season in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York and Washington, DC. In February 2016, Ms. Ko’s “Between Us” for cello and mezzo-soprano is premiered at National Sawdust, presented as part of HOWL’s production of “Araby,” a show based on the James Joyce short story by the same name. As recipient of the 2015-2016 New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission for orchestra, Ms. Ko’s “Strange Sounds and Explosions Worldwide” will be premiered by the Symphony in Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall in March 2016. She has been selected to complete a residency at Volti’s Choral Arts Lab in San Francisco, which includes a commission for a piece to be performed in May 2016.

Her works have been performed by the Mivos Quartet, orkest de ereprijs, ensemble mise-en, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Eastman Wind Ensemble, Luna Nova New Music Ensemble, and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among others. Her music has been featured in U.S. festivals including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Wellesley Composers Conference, Brevard Music Center, as well as at the Young Composers Meeting at Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, and the Shanghai Conservatory New Music Week.

Recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a 2015 BMI Student Composer Award, Ms. Ko’s works have been recognized by the Renee B. Fisher Foundation, Lin Yao Ji International Competition, New Music USA, International Alliance for Women in Music, Austin Peay State University, Chinese Fine Arts Society, and the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival. She is a three-time winner of the Eastman School of Music’s Louis Lane Prize, and won the Rapee Sagarik Prize at the 2014 Thailand International Composers Competition. She is recipient of a Copland House residency award and Cornell University’s 2014 Otto R. Stahl Memorial Award.

Photo: Matt Dine

Photo: Matt Dine

Her own explorations in the visual arts have sparked a curiosity for interdisciplinary connections—recent collaborative projects include a musical for Perry Chiu Experimental Theatre and a piece for Periapsis Music and Dance, choreographed by Bradley Shelver. In 2008, she collaborated with the lyricist and director of The Spring-Time Group (Hong Kong) to create music for the popular musical Rising Sun, which has toured several locations in Asia, including tenure as a featured event at the Macau International Music Festival. As an artist, Ms. Ko focuses on drawings and paintings that are abstract, organic and lyrical. In March 2015, a new installation entitled Breath, Contained opened under the Sibley Dome at Cornell University— featuring both traditional exhibition methods as well as live electronics to explore bubble wrap as a flexible medium for art and music.

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ms. Ko is currently a Sage Fellow and doctoral student at Cornell University where she works with Steven Stucky and Kevin Ernste. She received her Master’s degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she was awarded the 2011 Georgina Joshi Commission Prize, and her Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music.