Music Now is an informal forum series for Brown’s community of composers and music scholars. This week’s guest is Jennifer Koh. These talks are free and open to the public.
About Jennifer Koh
Recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance, violinist Jennifer Koh is a forward-thinking artist dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music. She has expanded the contemporary violin repertoire through a wide range of commissioning projects, and has premiered more than 70 works written especially for her. Her quest for the new and unusual, sense of endless curiosity, and ability to lead and inspire a host of multidisciplinary collaborators, truly set her apart.
Ms. Koh continues her critically acclaimed series this season, including Limitless, The New American Concerto, Shared Madness, Bach and Beyond, and Bridge to Beethoven. Initiated in 2018 at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, Limitless is a commissioning project that engages leading composer-performers to write duo compositions that explore the artistic relationship between composer and performer. Performed by Ms. Koh and the composers themselves, these works appear on recording in September 2019, released by Cedille Records. Ms. Koh also performs music from Limitless at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre with composer-performers Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey, and at the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth with Mr. Iyer, presented by the Van Cliburn Foundation. The New American Concerto is Ms. Koh’s ongoing, multi-season commissioning project that explores the form of the violin concerto and its potential for artistic engagement with contemporary societal concerns and issues through commissions from a diverse collective of composers. This season, as part of the project, she gives the world premieres of Lisa Bielawa’s Sanctuary with the Orlando Philharmonic and Courtney Bryan’s Syzygy with the Chicago Sinfonietta, as well as the New York premiere of Vijay Iyer’s Trouble with The Knights at the Miller Theater. The New American Concerto launched with Ms. Koh’s world premiere of Trouble at the 2017 Ojai Music Festival, followed by a performance with The Knights at Tanglewood, and has since continued with a new concerto by Christopher Cerrone titled Breaks and Breaks, which she premiered with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in May 2018.
Ms. Koh performs a broad range of concertos that reflects the breadth of her musical interests from traditional to contemporary. Highlights of her orchestral appearances have included performances of such traditional repertoire as Bach’s Violin Concerti with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Dvořák’s Violin Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony led by Manfred Honeck and RAI National Symphony with James Conlon; Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Bramwell Tovey and St. Louis Symphony led by Nicolas McGegan; Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Munich Philharmonic led by Lorin Maazel; and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Detroit Symphony led by Nicolas McGegan.
She is active not only in the concert hall and recording studio, but also as a lecturer and teacher. She is in residence this spring at Brown University, during which she will give a solo recital, perform with the university orchestra, and engage with students through master classes, talks, and seminars on topics including contemporary composition. In recent seasons, she has also been in residence at Cornell, Duke, and Tulane Universities, as well as the Curtis Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory and College, and University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2018, she was a keynote speaker on diversity and inclusion in classical music at the League of American Orchestras annual conference.
Ms. Koh is the Founder and Artistic Director of arco collaborative, an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us. The organization supports artistic collaborations and commissions, transforming the creative process by engaging with specific ideas and perspectives, investing in the future by cultivating artist-citizens in partnership with educational organizations. Ms. Koh is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Foundation for the Advancement for the Arts, a scholarship program for high school students in the arts.
Born in Chicago of Korean parents, Ms. Koh began playing the violin by chance, choosing the instrument in a Suzuki-method program only because spaces for cello and piano had been filled. She made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. She has been honored as “A Force of Nature” by the American Composers Orchestra and Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year. Ms. Koh was a top prize winner at Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky Competition, winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Oberlin College and studied at the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir.
For further information, visit jenniferkoh.com.