Andy Akiho is a “trailblazing” (Los Angeles Times) Pulitzer Prize finalist and Grammy-nominated composer whose bold works unravel intricate and unexpected patterns while surpassing preconceived boundaries of classical music. Known as “an increasingly in-demand composer” (The New York Times), Mr. Akiho has earned international acclaim for his large-scale works that emphasize the natural theatricality of live performance. He is the only composer to be nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category in both 2022 and 2023.
Highlights of the 2022-2023 season included the world-premiere of a new interdisciplinary work for Omaha Symphony honoring visual artist Jun Kaneko, the world-premiere of a new commission for Imani Winds, and a sold-out run of Mr. Akiho’s Seven Pillars at Théâtre du Châtelet, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied and performed by Sandbox Percussion and LA Dance Project. Equally at home writing chamber music and symphonies, Akiho was the Oregon Symphony Orchestra’s 2022-2023 composer-in-residence.
Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony, Oregon Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Music@Menlo, LA Dance Project, and The Industry.
Mr. Akiho has been recognized with many prestigious awards and organizations including the Rome Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize, Harvard University Fromm Commission, Barlow Endowment, New Music USA, and Chamber Music America. His compositions have been featured by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, The Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Heidelberg Festival.
An active steel pannist, Mr. Akiho has performed his works with the LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble, the International Drum Festival in Taiwan, and more. His recordings No One To Know One, The War Below, Seven Pillars, and Oculus feature brilliantly crafted compositions inspired by his primary instrument, the steel pan.
The physicality of playing that Mr. Akiho experiences as a steel pannist is an embedded aspect of his musical practice and naturally extends itself into his compositional output. Music making is inextricably linked to shared human experience for him from inception to performance. Mr. Akiho’s compositional trajectory has been an untraditional one: he spent most of his 20s playing steel pan by ear in Trinidad and began composing at age 28, and these social roots laid the foundation for his current practice. He can frequently be found composing into the wee hours of the morning at coffee shops, nightclubs, bars and restaurants, taking breaks to get to know those around him. Similarly, Mr. Akiho develops relationships with his collaborators as he writes for people, not instruments.
Mr. Akiho was born in 1979 in Columbia, SC, and is currently based in Portland, OR and New York City. He is represented by CAMI Music.