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Tonia Ko

Chicago, IL         

Tonia Ko’s creative evolution is guided by three conceptual pillars: texture, physical movement, and the relationship between melody and memory. These ideas permeate her recent works across a variety of media — from instrumental solos and large ensemble pieces, to paintings and sound installations. No matter how traditional or experimental the medium, Ko’s work reveals a core that is at once whimsical, questioning, and lyrical. 

Recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, Ko’s music has been lauded by The New York Times for its “captivating” details and “vivid orchestral palette.” She has been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles, and performed at venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Recent presenters of her work encompass a broad range of the music scene, including the Spektral Quartet, New York Youth Symphony, Wild Up, percussion/ cello duo New Morse Code, oboist Olivier Stankiewicz, and the virtuosic singers of Volti. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ko studied at the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, and Cornell University. She is represented by Young Concert Artists and is currently the 2018-19 Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition.

Simple Fuel

for large ensemble (13 players)

Commissioned by the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition for the Grossman Ensemble
Premiere performance conducted by Ben Bolter, Logan Center for the Arts, December 7, 2018

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Plain, Air (excerpt)

for string quartet and electronics

Commissioned by the Spektral Quartet with support from Chamber Music America
Excerpt of premiere performance by Spektral Quartet at Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, September 15, 2018

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Reaction (Axis III)

for flute and piano

Commissioned by Duo Axis: Zachary Sheets, flute, and Wei-Han Wu, piano
Recorded at Avaloch Farm Music Institute with audio by Nick Revel, August 2017

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