The music of Tonia Ko has been lauded by The New York Times for its “captivating” details and “vivid orchestral palette.” As a composer, she has been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles, and performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Santa Fe Chamber Music festivals. Tonia has received grants and awards from Chamber Music America, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, Composers Now, International Alliance for Women in Music, as well as residencies at Copland House, Djerassi, Pocantico Center, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. She served as the 2015-2017 Composer-in-Residence for Young Concert Artists.
Her interests in texture and physical movement play into a larger theme of interdependency between visual art and music. No matter how traditional or experimental the medium, Tonia’s creative work reveals a core that is at once whimsical, questioning, and lyrical. Recent presenters of her work encompass a broad range of the contemporary music scene, including the Minnesota Orchestra, oboist Olivier Stankiewicz, Chelsea Music Festival, Cantata Profana, and Tenth Intervention.
Tonia’s burgeoning practice as a visual artist have sparked interdisciplinary connections— most prominently “Breath, Contained”, an ongoing project using bubble wrap as a canvas for both art and sound. Out of this concept, she also develops interactive installations and sound sculptures, most recently supported by the Studios at MASS MoCA. Beyond the concert hall, she has collaborated with performance artist Kale Roberts, Periapsis Music and Dance, and Perry Chiu Experimental Theatre.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, Tonia earned degrees from Eastman School of Music and Indiana University. She holds a DMA from Cornell University, where she studied with Steven Stucky and Kevin Ernste. Tonia currently lives and works in Lawrence, Kansas.