Texu Kim (b.1980) is “one of the most active and visible composers of his generation” (San Francisco Classical Voice), writing music that’s fun, sophisticated, and culturally connected.
Drawing on his personal affinity for humor, his background in science, and his fascination with everyday experiences, Kim’s work radiates positivity, offering “major-league cuteness” (Broadway World) while demonstrating “surprising scope.” (San Diego Story) As a Korean-American, Kim explores the localization of imported traditions, incorporating cross-cultural elements into his work in “impressive and special” ways so that “many orchestras and conductors around the world are taking an interest in [his] music.” (KPBS) By highlighting the interaction between folk culture and external influences, Kim creates meaningful depth while maintaining a signature playfulness and exuberance that is listener-friendly and engaging. Characterized by “exuberant, colorful washes of sound… punchy bass lines, snappy brass fanfares, and suave… solos” (San Diego Story), Kim’s music is at times “explosively virtuosic” (Wall Street Journal) but always uplifting and rewarding for both listeners and performers.
Kim’s work has enjoyed an impressive international performance history from a roster of top orchestras and ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Oakland Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Korea, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Reconsil Vienna, New York Classical Players, Ensemble 212, AsianArt Ensemble Berlin, Ensemble Mise-en, Fear No Music, Ensemble TIMF, Northwestern University New Music Ensemble, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, C4: Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, NOTUS, Red Clay Saxophone Quartet, the Verona Quartet, and more. Having served as the Composer-in-Residence of the Korean Symphony Orchestra (2014-18), Kim has appeared at Yeowoorak Festival, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, PyeongChang Music Festival and School, Bruckner Festival, SONiC Festival, Mizzou International Composers Festival, June in Buffalo, Aspen Music Festival, SCI National Conferences, Composers Conference, and Oregon Bach Festival. The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and the Piece & Piano Festival featured Kim’s balanced and well-crafted arrangements, which may also be heard on numerous commercial albums. A frequent collaborator with choreographers, filmmakers, and educators, Kim has received awards and honors from the Barlow Prize, American Modern Ensemble, Copland House, SCI/ASCAP, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and Isang Yun International Composition Prize, to name a few, in addition to winning a Silver Medal in the 1998 International Chemistry Olympiad (Melbourne, Australia).
Kim’s recent/upcoming projects include the world premiere of fffanfare!! commissioned by the San Francisco Opera in September 2022; performances of Dub-Sanjo by the Korean National Symphony Orchestra during their Europe tour in October 2022; the world premiere of Ritus Sanitatem by the Verona Quartet in March 2023, co-commissioned by Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Austin with support of the Kahng Foundation and for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art in honor of its 2023 centennial with support from the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series Endowment; the world premiere of Welcome Home!! by the San Diego Symphony (also a part of the California Festival) in November 2023; and Spirit Dance commissioned by the Barlow Endowment that will be premiered in 2024 by Alarm Will Sound, the London Sinfonietta, the Oakland Symphony, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
An assistant professor of music at San Diego State University, Kim formerly taught at Syracuse University, Portland State University, and Lewis & Clark College. Kim is the Artist-of-the-Year of the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra and the director of the Korean Symphony Orchestra’s Composers’ Atelier program, educating and commissioning up-and-coming composers; he has also served as co-director of Ensemble 212’s ‘New Music for Young Audience’ series, and acted as a curator and board member for the Korean Cultural Society of Boston’s ‘New Music Symposium.’ Having earned his D.M. from Indiana University and prior degrees from Seoul National University, Kim’s greatest mentors include Unsuk Chin, David Dzubay, Sven-David Sandstrom, Claude Baker, and Sangjick Jun.
The music of an award-winning composer Polina Nazaykinskaya has become a staple of orchestral, chamber and solo repertory in the United States, Russia, and Europe.
Her first symphonic poem “Winter Bells” is in high demand every season by orchestras such as the Minnesota Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra among others. Her latest symphonic poem “Fenix”, premiered by the Albany Symphony is programmed for multiple performances in the 2021-2022 concert season. This season Polina`s music will be performed by the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Salina Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and Portland Youth Philharmonic. In October 2021, Polina`s ballet “Reverse Perspective” was performed at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the Jaani Kirik in Saint-Petersburg. In March 2022, the San-Francisco ballet premiered a new piece based on Polina`s composition “The Rising”, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov. In Spring 2022, MorDance premiered Polina`s new ballet “Encounters” at Symphony Space in New York City.
Polina’s collaborators include internationally renowned choreographers Pascal Rioult, Jonah Bokaer, and Ulyana Bochernikova. Polina works closely with the world’s leading conductors, such as Osmo Vänskä, Teodor Currentzis, Fabio Mastrangelo, Sarah Hicks, Toshiyuki Shimada, Lawrence Loh, and Hannu Lintu. Polina’s compositions are actively performed by internationally acclaimed soloists such as trombonist R. Douglas Wright, violinist Elena Korzhenevich, and pianist Anton Nel.
With her larger chamber music works, Polina frequently turns to the tragedy of humanity’s collective history, in particular the Holocaust. Her work “Haim”, is performed annually around the world and has become an important ensemble composition of the second decade of the 21st century.
Since Fall 2021, Polina has been the Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor of the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras. Prior to her current position, she conducted the British Youth Music Theatre, RIOULT Dance NY, the University of Southern Mississippi Orchestra, and the Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Over the past decade, Polina formed a creative alliance with an award-winning pianist and librettist Konstantin Soukhovetski. Together, they have premiered many works of diverse genres, from solo piano to ballets. Currently, they are working on an opera, commissioned by Opera Mississippi to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary and to be premiered in 2023.
Polina’s unique musical language embodies the diversity of multi-cultural education. She graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory College in Moscow as a composition/violin double major, studying with Konstantin Batashov and Vladimir Ivanov, respectively. Polina earned her Masters’ and Artist Diploma in composition at the Yale School of Music with Christopher Theofanidis and Ezra Laderman. Currently, Polina is a Doctoral Candidate at The Graduate Center CUNY under the mentorship of Tania León. Polina’s honors and awards include Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Polina is an Adjunct Lecturer of Composition at Brooklyn College Conservatory and a Teaching Artist at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven.
Joseph Sowa grew up playing violin and listening to orchestral broadcasts on NPR. He was captivated by how music speaks to our bodies’ rhythmic layers, as captured by composers as varied as Elliott Carter, John Williams, and Stevie Wonder. Surrounded by these sounds, Joseph wanted to make more of them.
Recent performances include premieres played by the Ludovico Ensemble, Collage New Music, Ensemble Dal Niente, and a consortium of English Horn players including Carolyn Hove, principal English Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His piece Motion Lines is scheduled for release by the PRISM Quartet on their album Surfaces and Essences.
His concert works have been performed in Europe by Quartetto Indaco, Arianna Tieghi, and Douglas Bush and throughout the United States by the Awea Duo, the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, the Lydian String Quartet, and the Tower Duo, as well as by Ron Brough, Douglas Bush, Eric Hansen, Jaren Hinckley, Scott Holden, Jed Moss, Ray Smith, and Neil Thornock, among others. He has been commissioned by performers including Hub New Music, the Genesis Chamber Singers, the Farallon Quintet, Douglas Bush, Carolyn Hove, Neil Thornock, and Arianna Tieghi as well as foundations including the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Laycock Endowment for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. Joseph’s sacred music, including originals and arrangements, has been performed in congregations across the United States and in London. His arrangement of “For the Beauty of the Earth” was recorded by soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick on her album American Grace, which debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard® “Traditional Classical” chart.
Joseph received his PhD in music composition and theory from Brandeis University. His dissertation paper examined the transformation of motive, tempo, and the symphonic genre in Thomas Adès’s Tevot, contextualizing it with Heraclitian philosophy and Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony. Other research interests include musical gestalt theory, 18th-century continuo and partimenti practice, and algorithmic composition.
But his time at Brandeis wasn’t all musical gestalt theory, 18th-century partimenti, and close analyses of great music. Joseph’s mentors David Rakowski, Yu-Hui Chang, and Marty Boykan worked hard to put students on high alert for the aesthetic hang-ups that tie most composers in knots. They taught Joseph to think twice about beliefs such as “bass-treble functions are passé” and “improvisation is not composition.” Once he started questioning academia’s “common knowledge,” Joseph started looking closer at the way composers are taught. He noticed a lot of rules, systems, and iconoclasm, but very few thorough explanations for how to create compelling music. Eventually, he created a new framework for composing that yields imaginative and effective music with less stress, and channeled his ideas into creating The Wizarding School for Composers, an online course designed to help composers develop their artistic voice and create meaningful musical experiences.
In addition to his Wizarding School for Composers, Dr. Sowa has taught at Northeastern University, Tufts University, Brandeis University, and Brigham Young University. His courses include standard composition, music theory, and aural skills—plus classes such as “Star Wars: How Long Ago? How Far Away?” Joseph is looking forward to the day when he can finally start work on his dream composition—a large-scale work for tuba ensemble.