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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.
The exploration of Bach’s music and its influence in today’s musical landscape has played an important role in Koh’s artistic journey. She is also passionate in her efforts to expand the repertoire for violin 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 exploring the history of solo violin repertoire from Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas to modern-day works; in 2012 she launched Two x Four – a project that pairs Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with newly commissioned double concerti – with former teacher and violinist Jaime Laredo; and she frequently performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas in a single concert.
Koh recently launched Off Stage On Record, a video series that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the life and career of a concert artist. The first three documentary-style episodes on creativity, collaboration, and body are available on her YouTube channel. Her forthcoming projects include Bridge to Beethoven, a recital series with pianist Shai Wosner, pairing Beethoven’s complete violin sonatas with new works by Anthony Cheung, Vijay Iyer, and Andrew Norman, to be launched in 2015; and The Life and Death of J.S. Bach, a recital of Bach’s complete Sonatas and Partitas staged by director Robert Wilson to be premiered in 2016.
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, Helsinki 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.
Cedille Records releases Bach and Beyond Part 2, Koh’s tenth album on the label, in the spring of 2015. Her Cedille discography includes Two x Four, a recording of the aforementioned project; Signs, Games + Messages with Wosner, performing works by Janácek, Bartók, and Kurtág; Bach & Beyond Part 1; Rhapsodic Musings: 21st Century Works for Solo Violin; the Grammy-nominated String Poetic, featuring the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s eponymous work performed with pianist Reiko Uchida; Schumann’s complete violin sonatas, also with Uchida; Portraits with the Grant Park Orchestra under Carlos Kalmar, featuring concertos by Szymanowski, Martinu, and Bartók; Violin Fantasies, with fantasies for violin and piano by Schubert, Schumann, Schoenberg, and saxophonist Ornette Coleman, again with Uchida; and her first Cedille album, from 2002, Solo Chaconnes, an earlier reading of Bach’s Second Partita coupled with chaconnes by Richard Barth and Max Reger.
Born in Chicago of Korean parents, 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 and went on to win the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. 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. Koh is the Artistic Director of MusicBridge, a non-profit organization she founded in 2013 to support innovative, artist-driven commissioning projects and music education initiatives.