Composer Feature

Emily Koh – Composer Feature

Emily is one of the composers we selected from our call for scores and we’re thrilled to be performing her piece, Synpunkt.

Emily is a Singaporean composer whose music is concerned with inner architectures, and characterized by inventive timbral explorations. In addition to writing concert music, she is interested in inter-disciplinary collaborations with other creatives where sound plays an important role in the creative process or goals of the collaboration. Described as ‘the future of composing’ (The Straits Times, Singapore), she is the recipient of awards such as the Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, Prix D’Ete, and PARMA competitions, commissions from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, Composers Conference at Wellesley College, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and grants from New Music USA, Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy and Paul Abisheganaden Grant from Artistic Excellence. Emily is a recent Ph.D. graduate (Music Composition and Theory) of Brandeis University, and is Assistant Professor of Composition at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia.

Her piece’s title, Synpunkt, is a Swedish word for for a comment or opinion, but when broken down into its constituent parts syn (the ability to see) and punkt (points), can also be interpreted as the ability to find see meaning past several unrelated points. The process of finding meanings for points is the main objective of the piece, and throughout the piece, the listener is fed relationships between points to figure out for his or herself.

Her musical inspirations are wide and varied. She is especially attracted to uniquely human things: language, philosophy, sensory details (food, visual art, experiences, etc). Her music definitely reflects this variety of influences. I was initially drawn to Synpunkt because of the range of sounds and structures she uses. This also led to the greatest challenge in learning the piece: making a whole out of all the different sections and ideas. But as rehearsals went on, strong connections and relationships emerged, and the piece revealed itself to be unified as much as it was disparate.

It’s been so rewarding to make these new discoveries in rehearsal. We’ve had a blast learning Emily’s piece, and we think you’ll have a blast hearing it as well. Make sure to come check it out Feb. 18, at Trinity Episcopal in Toledo!

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