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.
The exploration of Bach’s music and its influence in today’s musical landscape has played an important role in Koh’s artistic journey. In 2009, she debuted Bach and Beyond, a series of three recitals that explore the history of the solo violin repertoire from Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas to modern day composers including newly commissioned works. During the 2012-13 season, Koh performed the second recital in the series, Bach and Beyond Part II, which connects Bach’s Sonata No. 1 and Partita No. 1 to Bartók’s Sonata for solo violin and Phil Kline’s Partita for solo violin, a new work that received its world premiere as part of Bach and Beyond Part II at The Royal Conservatory in Toronto in November 2012.
In October 2011, Koh performed Bach’s complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin in a single concert – a feat long considered the ultimate test of a violinist’s command of his/her instrument – presented by Columbia University’s Miller Theatre at the Academy of Arts and Letters. She has since played the complete works at the Castleton Festival in Virginia and at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Massachusetts and this season she performs all six Sonatas and Partitas in a single concert in Houston.
Koh is passionate in her efforts to expand the violin repertoire and has established relationships with many of today’s composers, regularly commissioning and premiering new works. In addition to premiering Anna Clyne’s double violin concerto and Phil Kline’s Partita for solo violin this season and David Ludwig’s double violin concerto in June 2012, in recent seasons Koh became the only violinist other than Lorin Maazel to perform his violin concerto, conducted by Maazel at the Castleton Festival and gave the US premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Third Violin Concerto Juggler in Paradise with the National Symphony led by Christophe Eschenbach, a work she performed in her 2008 PROMS debut with the BBC Symphony conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. She also premiered Mark Grey’s Mugunghwa with the LA Master Chorale; and Missy Mazzoli’s Dissolve, O My Heart, commissioned for her by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a concert that also featured Koh with composer/guitarist Steve Mackey in his own piece, Four Iconoclast Interludes with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by John Ada.
A committed educator, Koh has won high praise for her performances in classrooms around the country under her innovative Music Messenger outreach program. Now in its ninth year, her outreach efforts have taken her to classrooms all over the country to perform for thousands of students who have little opportunity to hear classical music in their daily lives. Koh is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Foundation for the Advancement for the Arts, a scholarship program for high school students in the arts.