Tonia Ko Named 2018-19 Postdoctoral Researcher at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition

Tonia Ko credit Matt Dine
June 7, 2018

The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition (CCCC) is pleased to announce Tonia Ko as the 2018-19 Postdoctoral Researcher at the rank of Instructor in the Division of the Humanities. Ko will develop new works to be performed by the CCCC’s resident Grossman Ensemble, as well as other guest artists during the upcoming season. She will also teach an undergraduate course, provide music lessons, and participate in the Center’s workshops and events. 

"Tonia is a radiant talent. She creates works of beauty that are thoughtfully crafted, colorful, and commanding,” said Augusta Read Thomas, Director of the CCCC. “We look forward to welcoming her to the Center, where she will contribute to the open-minded, receptive, and supportive culture of our thriving composition community."

Tonia Ko’s creative evolution is largely guided by three conceptual pillars: texture, physical movement, and the relationship between melody and memory. These ideas permeate her recent works across a variety of media—from instrumental solos and large ensemble pieces, to paintings and sound installations.

Ko is the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, which she is deferring until 2019, a year after her position with the CCCC. She has received grants and awards from Harvard University's Fromm Music Foundation, Chamber Music America, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), as well as residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Copland House, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and Djerassi Resident Artist Program. She served as the 2015-2017 Composer-in-Residence for Young Concert Artists.

The New York Times praised her music for its “captivating” details and “vivid orchestral palette.” She has been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles, and performed at venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Internationally, her work has been featured at the Royaumont Académie Voix Nouvelles, Shanghai Conservatory New Music Week, Young Composers Meeting at Apeldoorn, and Thailand International Composition Festival, where she was awarded the 2014 Rapee Sagarik Prize.

"This fellowship provides crucial support for creative research— giving me the resources to pursue dream projects and to connect with world-class artists and scholars,” said Ko. “The University of Chicago hosts one of the most respected composition programs in the country and I am grateful to be a part of it this coming year. I look forward to joining the academic community and exploring the dynamic cultural scene in the city."

Ko’s work for the Grossman Ensemble premieres on December 7, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the Logan Center for the Arts, as part of a concert conducted by Ben Bolter with additional premieres by Sam Pluta, David Rakowski, and Shulamit Ran. The community is invited to learn more about her compositional process and her work with the Grossman Ensemble during an open rehearsal for the concert on Saturday, November 10.

Ko will serve as the second Postdoctoral Researcher of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition. The inaugural Researcher, Aaron Helgeson, will complete his fellowship this month. For more information visit