Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. With an impassioned musical curiosity, she is forging an artistic path of her own devising, choosing works that both inspire and challenge. She is dedicated to performing the violin repertoire of all eras from traditional to contemporary, believing that the past and present form a continuum. For her forward-thinking approach to classical music, presenting a broad and eclectic range of repertoire and fostering multidisciplinary collaborations with artists of all types and styles, Ms. Koh has been named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year.
During the 2015-16 season, Jennifer Koh collaborates with pianist Shai Wosner in Bridge to Beethoven, a recital series that pairs Beethoven’s violin sonatas with new works by Anthony Cheung, Vijay Iyer, and Andrew Norman, and explores the impact and significance Beethoven has had on a diverse group of composers and musicians. Bridge to Beethoven will be presented at the Aspen Music Festival and Ravinia Festival, at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Hahn Hall in Santa Barbara, and Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, among others. Orchestral highlights of the season include Ms. Koh’s debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and engagements with Buffalo Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. She also plays Anna Clyne’s violin concerto The Seamstress, a work written for her, with the Princeton, Cincinnati and BBC symphonies.
Ms. Koh has been heard with leading orchestras around the world including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, and the Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston, New World, Montreal, and National symphonies. Abroad she has appeared with the BBC London and Scottish Symphonies, Czech Philharmonic, Lahti Symphony, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, and Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo in Brazil. A prolific recitalist, she frequently appears at major music centers and festivals.
The exploration of Bach’s music and its influence in today’s musical landscape has played an important role in Ms. Koh’s artistic journey. She is also passionate in her efforts to expand the violin repertoire and has established relationships with many of today’s composers, regularly commissioning and premiering new works. In 2009 she debuted Bach and Beyond, a three-part recital series that explores the history of the solo violin repertoire from Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas to works by modern-day composers and new commissions; in 2012, she launched Two x Four—a project that pairs Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with newly commissioned double concerti—with her former teacher from the Curtis Institute of Music, violinist Jaime Laredo; and she frequently performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas in a single concert. Ms. Koh recently launched a video series on her YouTube channel called Off Stage On Record, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the life and career of a concert artist. The series features a number of short documentary style videos that explore creativity, collaboration, the recording process, the instrument and body, juggling one’s schedule, and more.
Ms. Koh regularly records for Cedille Records. Her discography includes Bach and Beyond Part 1 and Bach and Beyond Part 2, based on her recital series of the same name; Two x Four, an album of double violin concertos with Jaime Laredo and the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble; Signs, Games + Messages, a recording of violin and piano works by Janáček, Bartók and Kurtág with pianist Shai Wosner; and the Grammy-nominated String Poetic, featuring the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s eponymous work, performed with pianist Reiko Uchida.
Born in Chicago of Korean parents, Ms. Koh began playing the violin by chance, choosing the instrument in a Suzuki-method program only because spaces for cello and piano had been filled. She made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. In a shift of disciplines, Ms. Koh earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Oberlin College before studying at the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. Ms. Koh is on the string faculty of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Ms. Koh is the Artistic Director of MusicBridge, a non-profit organization she founded in 2013 to foster and promote collaborations between artists of diverse disciplines and styles. MusicBridge provides leadership and support for innovative music and artistic commissions, educational initiatives, and professional development of classical musicians. MusicBridge exists to build a community of artists working together to expand appreciation for classical music performances and artistry. For more information go to www.musicbridge.org.