EarShot Grand Rapids Symphony – Composer Spotlight: Jiyoung Ko

Jiyoung Ko is a Michigan-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. Her works have been performed around the world by ensembles including Ensemble Dal Niente, Del Sol String Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, NEC Honors Ensemble, and KNUA Chamber Ensemble. Jiyoung was 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. Jiyoung 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, Kati Agócs, and Geonyoug Lee.

Jiyoung’s orchestral piece Remembrances was selected for the Grand Rapids Symphony EarShot New Music Readings, where it will be workshopped and read under the direction of conductor Jacomo Bairos. Public performances will take place on Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, 2018 at The Morton as part of ArtPrize. More information here

Jiyoung spoke with us about her piece and the upcoming readings.

Composer Jiyoung Ko. Photo by Hyewon Park

American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Grand Rapids Symphony EarShot New Music Readings?

Jiyoung Ko: I was pleasantly surprised. It is a great honor to be selected. This piece was a departure from my usual composition style. I wanted my repertoire to be more robust and this piece gave me an opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone.

ACO: In the program note, you write that your piece is about the emotions you feel when “a new experience unexpectedly seizes me,” when a memory is created. Why did you chose to write a piece about this? Did the music come first and then the idea, or the other way round?

JK: The idea definitely came first. I wanted to capture notable moments in my life and transfer them into music. I think this is a way to give them permanence. Although this piece is about the emotions I feel and try to retain, it is my hope that the music will evoke memories of special moments in the listeners’ lives as well.

ACO: What are you doing to prepare for the readings? Are there any changes you have made to your piece?

JK: To prepare for the readings I had to fine tune and balance several passages. The original instrumentation of my orchestra piece is broader than the Grand Rapids Symphony’s instrumentation, so I first compressed it for the GRS, then considered voicing and carefully amped up important melodies that I wanted to emphasize more strongly in performance. I have also adjusted my score and parts based on suggestions from ACO’s engraving specialist.

ACO: What do you hope to gain from this experience?

JK: I hope to learn more about orchestration and the orchestra rehearsal process. For example, effective communication with the conductor and the orchestra, precise notation, rehearsal technique, and balance. All these will have an impact on my writing of orchestra pieces or large ensembles in the future. Also, I will be inspired by the feedback from the mentor composers, the conductor, the musicians, and my fellow colleagues.

Grand Rapids Symphony will give public performances of Jiyoung Ko’s Remembrances on Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, 2018 at The Morton, as part of ArtPrize. More information here

Learn more about Jiyoung Ko at www.jiyoungkomusic.com

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