The Pasadena Symphony’s commitment to the future of classical music is on display with its annual Composer’s Showcase, featuring works by both emerging and established contemporary composers at each concert. Meet our composers…these superstars are shaping the future of classical music.
Born in Los Angeles of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, Nokuthula Endo Ngwenyama is a highly acclaimed composer and violist who she has performed with orchestras worldwide. At age 16 she won the International Viola Competition, followed by the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and the Avery Fisher Career Grant. She has performed at the White House and testified before Congress on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She currently performs as violist with the group Umama Womama with fellow performer-composers Valerie Coleman and Hannah Lash.
Ngwenyama is past president of the American Viola Society and has served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, as well as Director of the Primrose International Viola Competition. She is the first composer in residence of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and curates Composer’s Choice, a co-production of ASU/Kerr Cultural Center, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, and Peace Mama Productions, which features 21st century music and its creators in a chamber setting. She is an alumna of the Colburn School for the Performing Arts and the Curtis Institute of Music. As a Fulbright Scholar she attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and received a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University.
Grammy®-nominated flutist and composer Valerie Coleman was named Performance Today’s 2020 “Classical Woman of the Year,” and one of the “Top 35 Women Composers” by The Washington Post. Her works have garnered awards including the MAPFund, ASCAP Honors Award, Herb Alpert Ragdale Residency Award, and nominations from The American Academy of Arts and Letters and United States Artists. Her piece Umoja, Anthem for Unity was chosen by Chamber Music America as one of the “Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works” and is now a staple of woodwind literature.
Coleman is the founder of the acclaimed ensemble Imani Winds, whose 24-year legacy is documented and featured in an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also co-founded and currently performs as flutist for the performer-composer trio Umama Womama along with harpist Hannah Lash and violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama.
Coleman recently joined the Mannes School of Music Flute and Composition faculty as the Clara Mannes Fellow for Music Leadership, and previously served on the faculty of The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. In 2021/22, she leads a year-long residency at The Juilliard School in their Music Advancement Program through American Composers Forum and has also been named to the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater New Works dual commissioning program.
London-born Anna Clyne is a Grammy®-nominated composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music. Described as a “composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods” by the New York Times, Clyne is one of the most acclaimed and in-demand composers of her generation, often embarking on collaborations with innovative choreographers, visual artists, filmmakers and musicians.
Clyne has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre national d’Île-de-France and Berkeley Symphony. She is currently the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Associate Composer through the 2021-22 season and a mentor composer for Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Unsuk Chin was born in 1961 in Seoul, South Korea and has lived in Berlin since 1988. Her music has attracted the attention of international conductors with its modern language, but lyrical and non-doctrinaire communicative power. Chin has received many honors, including the Arnold Schoenberg Prize, the Prince Pierre Foundation Music Award, the Wihuri Sibelius Prize, the Hamburg Bach Prize, the Kravis Prize and the 2021 Leonie Sonning Music Prize. She has been commissioned by leading performing organizations worldwide, and has also been active in writing electronic music, receiving commissions from IRCAM and other electronic music studios.
Chin has been Composer-in-Residence of festivals around the globe including the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, overseeing its contemporary music series, which she founded. She served as Artistic Director of the ‘Music of Today’ series of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and in 2022 she starts a five year tenure as Artistic Director of the Tongyeong International Festival in South Korea and her Artistic Directorship of the Weiwuying International Music Festival in Taiwan.
Lauded by the New Yorker as “one of the world’s leading young composers,” Huang Ruo’s vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock and jazz. His music has been premiered by orchestras worldwide, with his diverse compositional works spanning from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater and dance, to cross-genre, sound installation, multi-media, experimental improvisation, folk rock and film.
Huang Ruo is composer-in-residence at the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan and was the first composer-in-residence of the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. He is currently on the composition faculty at the Mannes College of Music at the New School in New York. He is the artistic director and conductor of Ensemble FIRE (Future In REverse), and was selected as a Young Leader Fellow by the National Committee on United States-China Relations.
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Carlos Simon’s music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel and neo-romanticism. Simon is Music Director and keyboardist for Grammy® Award-winning singer Jennifer Holliday and has also served as a contributing arranger for Rachel Barton Pine Foundation’s Music by Black Composers series for violin. His string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner was recently performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mason Bates JFK Jukebox Series.
Recent accolades include winning the prestigious Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Award, the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission from the American Composers Orchestra, the Presser Award from the Theodore Presser Foundation, and being named as a Sundance/Time Warner Composer Fellow. He has served on the music faculty at Spelman and Morehouse Colleges in Atlanta and currently serves as Assistant Professor at Georgetown University.