Violinist Jennifer Koh will present the Bienen School of Music’s convocation address on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at 1 p.m. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.
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 equity and inclusivity in classical music. She has expanded the contemporary violin repertoire through a wide range of commissioning projects and has premiered more than 100 works written especially for her.
Ms. Koh’s critically acclaimed series include Alone Together, Bach and Beyond, The New American Concerto, Limitless, Bridge to Beethoven, and Shared Madness. Featured this season is The New American Concerto, an 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. Earlier this spring, she premiered the sixth commission in the project—Missy Mazzoli’s Violin Concerto with the National and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras. Upcoming performances are with the London’s Philharmonia at the BBC Proms and the Kansas City Symphony. In April 2022, Ms. Koh premiered a new work, Everything Rises, in collaboration with bass-baritone Davóne Tines, presented by UCLA and UCSB. Everything Rises is a musical drama borne of Ms. Koh’s and Mr. Tines’ experiences as artists of color whose collective exploration led them back to their family histories—to the stories of Ms. Koh’s mother, a refugee from North Korea during the Korean War, and Mr. Tines’s grandmother, who holds vivid memories of anti-Black discrimination and violence dating back many years.
An additional highlight of Ms. Koh’s season is Alone Together, her Grammy Award-winning recording in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, released on Cedille. Originally launched as a commissioning project and performance series, Alone Together was developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial hardship it placed on many in the arts community. The project brought composers together in support of the many freelancers among them—with the more established composers each donating a new micro-work for solo violin, while also recommending a fellow freelance composer to write their own solo violin micro-work on paid commission from Ms. Koh’s artist-driven nonprofit ARCO Collaborative.
Ms. Koh has been heard with leading orchestras around the world including the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics; the Cleveland, Minnesota, and Philadelphia Orchestras; the Atlanta, Baltimore, BBC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Montreal, Nashville, National, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Seattle Symphonies, among other ensembles. She was Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, and was recognized as “A Force of Nature” by the American Composers Orchestra in 2019. She 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 is also an active lecturer and teacher, and is a Creative Associate at Juilliard. Ms. Koh 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. She is Founder and Artistic Director of ARCO Collaborative, which advocates for inclusivity in classical music.
Photo by Juergen Frank