September 17, 2019
Violinist Jennifer Koh Performs New York Premiere of Vijay Iyer’s "Trouble" with The Knights at Miller Theatre at Columbia University, October 24
Violinist Jennifer Koh and composer Vijay Iyer in conversation at Oberlin workshop of Trouble
Violinist Jennifer Koh and composer Vijay Iyer in conversation at Oberlin workshop of Trouble

Concerto written for Ms. Koh’s New American Concerto commissioning project

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (September 17, 2019) — Having commissioned and premiered Vijay Iyer’s concerto Trouble in 2017, violinist Jennifer Koh now brings the work to New York for the first time, performing it with The Knights under the baton of Eric Jacobsen at Miller Theatre at Columbia University as part of its Vijay Iyer Composer Portrait on Thursday, October 24, at 8:00 p.m.Trouble was the inaugural work in Ms. Koh’s multi-season commissioning project The New American Concerto, which asks composers of diverse backgrounds to rethink the form of the violin concerto for the 21st century and use it to engage with socio-cultural issues facing Americans today. In the case of Mr. Iyer’s concerto, these issues are discrimination and the immigrant experience. Ms. Koh previously performed Trouble with Mr. Jacobsen and The Knights at Tanglewood one month after the world premiere. On the upcoming program, The Knights also perform the world premiere of Mr. Iyer’s Song for Flint, which is a Miller Theatre commission, and the New York premieres of Crisis Modes (2019) and The Law of Returns (2017). For ticketing information, visit

Vijay Iyer’s Trouble—co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival, Cal Performances in Berkeley, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra—developed out of conversations between Ms. Koh and Mr. Iyer about problematic attitudes towards race, exacerbated by the current political climate and high-profile injustices. They wanted to find a way for the form of a violin concerto to tackle the difficult subject matter of racial violence and how communities can come together in response. The composer explains:

“I didn’t want to rehash the typical narrative positioning a heroic individual over or against a multitude. Ms. Koh told me that the soloist could instead be viewed as someone willing to be vulnerable, to publicly venture where most people won’t, to accept a role that no one else will accept, to bear the unbearable. In other words, the soloist can embody the relationship of an artist to her community: not so much a “leader” or “hero,” but something more like a shaman, a conduit for the forces in motion around us.

“The third movement is dedicated to Vincent Chin, whose murder in the early 80s signaled an ongoing pattern of violent hate crimes against people of color. His death became a watershed moment for anti-racist activism, which is as urgently needed today as it has ever been.”

Ms. Koh was 5 years old when Vincent Chin was killed, and she remembers the resulting outcry as one of the first Asian-American political movements in her life. The world premiere of Trouble was given two weeks before the 35th anniversary of Chin’s death, at the 2017 Ojai Music Festival curated by Mr. Iyer. The work was premiered—and subsequently reprised in Berkeley, CA—with the International Contemporary Ensemble and Oberlin Conservatory Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by Steve Schick. Ms. Koh and Mr. Iyer also workshopped the concerto at Oberlin College and Conservatory two months prior to the world premiere.

Additional commissions of Ms. Koh’s New American Concerto project include Christopher Cerrone’s Breaks and Breaks, premiered with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Peter Oundjian; Lisa Bielawa’s Sanctuary, to be premiered January 15 with the Orlando Philharmonic, led by Eric Jacobsen; and Courtney Bryan’s Syzygy, which receives its premiere performances on March 7 and 9 with the Chicago Sinfonietta, under the baton of Mei-Ann Chen.


Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. A forward-thinking artist, she is dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music. She has expanded the contemporary violin repertoire through a wide range of commissioning projects, and has premiered more than 70 works written especially for her. Her quest for the new and unusual, sense of endless curiosity, and ability to lead and inspire a host of multidisciplinary collaborators, truly set her apart.

Ms. Koh was named Musical America’s 2016 “Instrumentalist of the Year,” was a winner in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and Concert Artists Guild Competition, and received an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Born in Chicago, She has a BA in English literature from Oberlin College and studied at the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. She is an active lecturer, teacher, and Cedille Records recording artist; and is the Artistic Director of arco collaborative, an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us.

For further information, visit

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Thursday, October 24, at 8:00 p.m.
Miller Theatre at Columbia University (New York, NY)

Jennifer Koh, violin**
The Knights — Eric Jacobsen, conductor

VIJAY IYER (b. 1971)

Song for Flint (2019) — world premiere, Miller Theatre commission
Crisis Modes (2019) — New York premiere
Trouble (2017) — New York premiere**
The Law of Returns (2017) — New York premiere

For ticketing information, visit

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