Since the founding of America, immigrants have sought to reach the shores of this land in hopes of realizing their destiny. In doing so, each has enriched this land beyond measure. As an immigrant, I wanted to contribute a piece of myself to this great country. My piece is an evolution of "America the Beautiful,” in which I hope to convey a soulful sense of urgency balanced with a bold sensitivity.
Born in Korea, Jiyoung Ko is a Michigan based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. Her music is poetic and full of vibrant passages and picturesque images. She often takes inspiration from everyday life and weaves it into music. Her compositions encompass a wide range of styles - from cutting edge to traditional - which are relatable to both the ordinary and professional listener. One of her pieces was described as a “brilliant study in timbre, tone, and color…a haunting piece.” (AB Newswire) Ms. Ko has a reputation for creating works of art that often linger with listeners long after the music ends.
Her work has been performed in the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Germany by various ensembles and orchestras, including the Grand Rapids Symphony, Dal Niente, Del Sol String Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea, NEC Honors Ensemble and KNUA Chamber Ensemble.
Most recently, Ko was a finalist of the League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers Readings and Commissions Program supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation in 2019. Her orchestral work, Remembrances, was selected by the American Composers Orchestra’s EarShot New Music Readings for a performance by the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2018, and she was the ArtPrize 10 Public Vote winner for her entry.
She was also selected for the 2018 Civic Orchestra of Chicago New Music Workshop with coaching by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) at Chicago’s Symphony Center. In 2017, her orchestral work, Spring Overture, was mentioned as an alternate for the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. Other honors include winning Honors Ensemble at The New England Conservatory and an award for a String Quartet competition featuring Del Sol String Quartet.
Ko has been a fellow at the June In Buffalo Music Festival, Pacific Rim Music Festival, and NONG Music Festival, and participated in master classes with Unsuk Chin, John Harbison, and Krzysztof Penderecki. She received her master’s degree from The New England Conservatory and her bachelor’s degree from Korea National University of Arts where she studied with Michael Gandolfi and Geonyoug Lee. Outside of her musical endeavors, she enjoys literature, making espresso, and camping with her husband and young son.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon