“One of the top ensembles of today” (CNN), Sejong Soloists — a vibrant and virtuosic chamber orchestra founded by renowned Juilliard professor Hyo Kang — pushes the envelope with its commitment to superior musicianship, engaging performances, and the promotion of new works.
Sejong Soloists has been making waves since its inception in 1994. Among its many achievements, the ensemble has: logged over 600 performances in more than 120 cities, including on invitation from such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center; served as the Honorary Ambassador of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games; held the prestigious position of ensemble-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival for nine seasons; recorded eight highly-acclaimed albums; collaborated with dozens of leading performers; and premiered eleven original works, with their commission of Tod Machover's Overstory Overture becoming the twelfth.
With members in such esteemed concertmaster posts as the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, as well as faculty positions at world-class institutions including Juilliard and Yale, Sejong Soloists has, under founding artistic director Hyo Kang’s guiding hand, a nearly three-decade track record of fulfilling its three-fold mission: to make an enriching cultural and social contribution through the beauty of music; to serve as a cultural ambassador through performances of the highest caliber; and to act as an incubator for the next generation of classical musicians.
An ever-cutting-edge ensemble, Sejong is active in incorporating the latest trends in technology to their artistic endeavors. In 2021, the ensemble partnered with Common Computer to launch the first-of-its-kind classical music performances in the metaverse through Gather. These performances, a part of Sejong’s 4th Hic et Nunc festival, featured guest artists Kathleen Kim, Met Opera star soprano, David Chan, concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera and Sejong alum, and Frank Huang, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic and Sejong alum. In 2022, Sejong Soloists launched the NFT Classics Society (NCS) with AI Network and The Only Moments; NCS serves as a digital community for classical music connoisseurs, and hosted Sejong’s series of NFTs, centered on the “Cobbett” Stradivarius violin and Bach solo violin works.
As Sejong Soloists approaches its 30th year, the ensemble looks not only to continue its history of promoting excellence in music and developing the careers of exceptional young artists, but also to advance the creativity of composers of the present and future. Beginning with Tod Machover’s Overstory Overture, Sejong Soloists establishes a twice-annual festival of new music, curated and presented by living composers, featuring world and NYC premieres. Upcoming partnerships and commissions will come from such composers as Augusta Read Thomas, Unsuk Chin, Lera Auerbach, Avner Dorman, and Texu Kim.
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
“The staggering, joyful artistry of Joyce DiDonato reminds us that in any generation there are a few giants. Joyce is not only a great, brave and inspiring artist – one of the finest singers of our time- but she is also a transformative presence in the arts. Those who know her repertoire are in awe of her gifts, and those who know nothing of it are instantly engaged. Joyce sings and the world is suddenly brighter. She compels us to listen actively, to hear things anew.”
Jake Heggie, Gramophone
Multi Grammy Award winner and 2018 Olivier Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Kansas-born Joyce DiDonato entrances audiences across the globe, and has been proclaimed “perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation” by the New Yorker. With a voice “nothing less than 24-carat gold” according to the Times, Joyce has soared to the top of the industry both as a performer and a fierce advocate for the arts, gaining international prominence in operas by Handel and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging, acclaimed discography. She is also widely acclaimed for the bel canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti.
Much in demand on the concert and recital circuit she has recently held residencies at Carnegie Hall and at London’s Barbican Centre, toured extensively in the United States, South America, Europe and Asia and appeared as guest soloist at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. Recent concert highlights include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Ricardo Muti, the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the Accademia Santa Cecilia Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra USA under Sir Antonio Pappano.
In opera, Joyce’s recent roles include Didon Les Troyens at the Vienna State Opera; Sesto, Cendrillon and Adalgisa Norma at the Metropolitan Opera, Agrippina in concert with Il Pomo d’Oro under Maxim Emelyanchev; Sister Helen Dead Man Walking at the Teatro Real Madrid and London’s Barbican Centre; Semiramide at the Bavarian State Opera and Royal Opera House, and Charlotte Werther at the Royal Opera.
Joyce’s 19/20 season sees her staged debut as Agrippina in a new production at the Royal Opera House, returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Agrippina and Charlotte Werther, and performances as Semiramide at the Liceu Barcelona. She is Carnegie Hall’s 19/20 Perspectives Artist with appearances including the Chicago Symphony Orchesrta under Muti, with Nezet-Séguin in recital performing Schubert’s Winterreise, a Joyce & Friends chamber music concert joined by the Brentano Quartet and pianist Byran Wagorn, a baroque inspired programme My Favourite Things with Il Pomo d’Oro, as well as live-streamed masterclasses. Also with Il Pomo d’Oro, the season holds the final tour of her album In War & Peace to South America culminating in Washington DC, as well as a European and US tour of My Favourite Things. Other highlights include a tour with the Orchestre Métropolitain under Nézet-Séguin; touring her latest album release Songplay in Europe and recorded concerts of Berlioz Roméo & Juliette with John Nelson and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.
An exclusive recording artist with Erato/Warner Classics, Joyce’s award-winning discography includes Les Troyens which in 2018 won the Recording (Complete Opera) category at the International Opera Awards, the Opera Award at the BBC Music Magazine Awards and Gramophone’s Recording of the Year. An extensive recording artist, other recent albums include Songplay, In War & Peace which won the 2017 Best Recital Gramophone Award, Stella di Napoli, her Grammy-Award-winning Diva Divo and Drama Queens. Other honours include the Gramophone Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards, and an induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.
Tod Machover, composer
Called “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times and a “musical visionary” by The New York Times, Tod Machover is recognized as one of today’s most innovative composers, creating music that breaks traditional artistic and cultural boundaries and developing technologies that expand music’s potential for everyone. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM in Paris. He is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media and Director of the Opera of the Future Group at the MIT Media Lab. Machover is also Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Tod Machover's compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world's most prestigious ensembles, opera houses and soloists on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Ensemble InterContemporain, Edinburgh International Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Joyce Di Donato, and many more. His work has received numerous awards and honors, from organizations including the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and the French Culture Ministry, and he was named Musical America’s 2016 Composer of the Year.
Machover is especially known for his visionary and groundbreaking operas, beginning with VALIS in 1987. His most recent operas are Death and the Powers (2010), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Schoenberg in Hollywood (2018). With his series of “City Symphonies” (in Toronto, Edinburgh, Perth, Lucerne, Detroit and Philadelphia), Machover invites people of all ages and backgrounds to work with him to create a musical portrait of their city, by combining “normal” musical resources with sounds discovered and collected in that place.
As an inventor, Machover is known for creating Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for virtuosi (like Yo-Yo Ma and Prince) and amateurs alike. The popular video game Guitar Hero grew out of Machover’s group at the Media Lab, and he is involved in developing a number of musical technologies and concepts with medical and wellbeing applications for people with Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy and more.
As part of its 200th Anniversary celebrations this season, the Royal Academy of Music (London) commissioned and premiered Resolve Remote (2022) for solo violin and electronics this fall, and has just released a new recording of the work by violinist Charlie Lovell-Jones. At MIT this fall, Machover presented a program of three world premieres that explore the ways music affects human bodies and minds, as part of the opening celebrations of the new MIT Museum,
Machover is currently working on his next opera, The Overstory, based on Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-prize-winning novel of the same name. The first section of that opera, Overstory Overture, premieres this March at Lincoln Center, starring mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and performed by the Sejong Soloists, who commissioned the work. A new version of VALIS is set to premiere at MIT in September 2023, starring baritone Davóne Tines and directed by Jay Scheib.