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Tonia Ko



The music of Tonia Ko has been described by critics as “expansive, meditative,” (Chicago Classical Review) and containing “an uncertain piquancy” (San Francisco Repeat Performances). Born in Hong Kong in 1988 and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, her work strives to capture the poetics and emotions behind small visual details of everyday life. Ensembles that have performed her music include New Morse Code, orkest de ereprijs, Flux Quartet, ensemble mise-en, IU New Music Ensemble, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Eastman Wind Ensemble, Luna Nova New Music Ensemble, and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her music has been featured in festivals across the United States as well as in Asia and Europe, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Young Composers Meeting at Apeldoorn, Shanghai Conservatory New Music Week, Wellesley Composers Conference, Brevard Music Center, and the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. A three-time winner of the Louis Lane Prize, she has also received recognition from the Renee B. Fisher Foundation, Lin Yao Ji International Competition, New Music USA, Musica Domani International Competition, International Alliance for Women in Music, Austin Peay State University, Chinese Fine Arts Society, and the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival. In 2013, she was awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and residency award from the Copland House.

Tonia is currently a third-year doctoral student at Cornell University. She received her Master’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she also served as an Associate Instructor of Music Theory. At IU, she was awarded the 2011 Georgina Joshi Commission Prize. Tonia earned a Bachelor’s degree with highest distinction from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Other mentors include Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Dzubay, Claude Baker, and Robert Morris. As a pianist, Tonia has studied with Ernest Chang, Vincent Lenti and Shigeo Neriki. She has also been a member of the IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Eastman Chorale and the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus, an organization with which she sang and danced hula for eleven years.

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, Tonia focuses on ink drawings that are abstract, organic and lyrical. She is currently working on an installation entitled Breath Contained, which uses both traditional exhibition methods as well as electronics to explore bubble wrap as a flexible medium for art and music.