Counterstream Radio
Inspect the unexpected
Media on Demand
Browse Music and Interviews

Tonia Ko

Lawrence, KS         

The music of Tonia Ko has been lauded by The New York Times for its “captivating” details and “vivid orchestral palette.” Her interests in texture and physical movement play into a larger theme of interdependency between visual art and music.

For the 2016-17 season, Tonia was guest composer at Clarion Concerts in Columbia County and The Process Series at UNC Chapel Hill. She was also commissioned by clarinetist Chen Halevi for the CEME Festival in Tel Aviv and Young Concert Artists, writing for oboist Olivier Stankiewicz. Future projects include collaborations with The Rhythm Method string quartet and University of Kansas Wind Ensemble.

Tonia’s music has been performed by ensembles such as Minnesota Orchestra, Volti, New York Youth Symphony, Flux Quartet, orkest de ereprijs, Eastman Wind Ensemble, New Morse Code, and Sō Percussion. She has been featured at nief-norf Summer Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Shanghai New Music Week, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Tonia has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, Composers Now, International Alliance for Women in Music, as well as residencies at Copland House, Djerassi, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. She is currently represented by Young Concert Artists, Inc. as 2015-2017 Composer-in-Residence.

Her own explorations as an artist have sparked interdisciplinary connections— most prominently “Breath, Contained”, an ongoing project using bubble wrap as a canvas for both art and sound. Tonia is currently a doctoral candidate at Cornell University where she studied with Steven Stucky and Kevin Ernste. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, she received previous degrees from Indiana University and the Eastman School of Music.

Breath, Contained : Bubble wrap quintet with live electronics

Sandbox Percussion with Michael Compitello, Cornell University Sibley Dome, March 26, 2015. In this quintet, the seemingly mundane bubble wrap transforms into a flexible musical instrument, emitting sounds that are equal parts whimsical and haunting. The rich sound world of bubble wrap is explored through structured improvisation, augmented only by amplification and filtering techniques. By willing these air bubbles to express, performers attempt to release its breath.

Like this? Login or register to make a playlist of your favorites pieces.

Games of Belief : piano solo

This work confronts an acoustical reality of the piano: every key is connected to a long metal string containing all harmonic partials of the fundamental. By isolating these overtones, the performer essentially creates a series of arpeggios, a familiar trope to much of piano music. This creates both timbral and poetic tension: the traditional arpeggios, along with the stylistic implications of them, are contrasted by the more unusual world activated by harmonics along a string.

Like this? Login or register to make a playlist of your favorites pieces.

Eyelids are Islands : sinfonietta

Recording by Ensemble Echappe, cond. Jeffrey Milarsky, Symphony Space, NYC, Feb. 26, 2016. Dialogue occurring between different instruments is informed by dichotomies within our own bodies– the left and right sides, internal and external. The double bass functions as heart of the ensemble “body”. Its sound injects energy and resonance throughout the group; even a simple note on the open E string contains waves of harmonic and gestural repercussions. The sinfonietta ensemble is rearranged to create subtly antiphonal and theatrical pairings.

Like this? Login or register to make a playlist of your favorites pieces.