Unsunk Chin

Korean composer born in 1961

Works in the repertoire

cosmigimmicks (1961) | instrumental ensemble [7 instruments] | 23′

Unsuk Chin began studying piano and music theory at an early age. She entered Seoul National University where she studied composition with Sukhi Kang until 1985. She performed as a pianist at the Pan Music Festivals.

Her composition Gestalten was selected for the World Music Days of the International Society of Contemporary Music in Canada in 1984 and for the International Rostrum of Composers of UNESCO in Paris. A DAAD scholarship enabled her to study with György Ligeti at the Hamburg Academy of Music from 1985 to 1988. Since 1988 she has lived in Berlin.

Her works have been performed in numerous festivals and concert cycles, mainly in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, South Korea, Finland and Scandinavia. Akrostichon-Wortspiel (1991) has been performed in many countries by the Ensemble Modern, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Nieuw Ensemble, Ensemble Asko, Ensemble Ictus, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra. Spektra won the Grand Prize at the International Gaudeamus Competition in Amsterdam in 1985, Santika Ekataka won the First Prize at the Tokyo Government 50th Anniversary Orchestral Works Competition in 1993*.

Unsuk Chin was composer-in-residence for the Berlin Symphony Orchestra in 2001-2002 and was commissioned to write her Violin Concerto, premiered in January 2002 at the Berlin Philharmonic by Viviane Hagner, conducted by Kent Nagano. Several concertos followed: a Double Concerto for piano, percussion and ensemble (2002), Šu for sheng and orchestra (2009), a Cello Concerto (2006-2008, revised in 2011), a Clarinet Concerto (2014).

His other works include a cycle of piano studies (1995-2003), a quartet with tape ParaMetaString, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet (1996), several ensemble pieces, including the street scenes Gougalon (2009-2011), Fantaisie mécanique (1997), Xi (1998) and Fanfare chimérique (2011), premiered by the Ensemble intercontemporain, Rocaná for orchestra (2008), premiered by Kent Nagano in Montreal, cosmigimmicks premiered in 2012 at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, Graffiti premiered in 2013 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Large-scale works with solo voices – Mirrors of Time, commissioned by the BBC for the Hilliard Ensemble and the London Philharmonic (1999-2001), Kalá, co-commissioned by the Danish Radio, Gothenburg and Oslo Symphony Orchestras (2000), Cantatrix Sopranica, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, for two sopranos, Cantatrix Sopranica, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, for two sopranos, countertenor and ensemble (2004-2005) – are followed by other works such as Alice in Wonderland, an opera based on Lewis Carroll, premiered at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in June 2007, Le Silence des Sirènes, premiered by the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra in 2014, and Le Chant des Enfants des Étoiles, for choir and orchestra, premiered by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016.

In 2017 she received the Sibelius Prize of the Wihuri Foundation and in 2019 the Bach Prize of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Unsuk Chin is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

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