Ming Tsao

Ming Tsao

Fellow: Awarded 2021
Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: US & Canada

The composer Ming Tsao writes music with a sensuality that arises out of a focus on the inherent qualities of sound – what the composer calls its “materiality” – coupled to an extreme formal rigour and a highly precise, finely-crafted compositional style. In the foreground of his music is a contemporary conception of musical lyricism, which is fractured, multi-faceted and problematised to reflect the modern experience. Many of Ming Tsao’s works are the result of a critical and deep-thinking examination of the Western classical tradition as well as his serious engagement with Chinese traditional music. Increasingly, opera is the forum where he brings these interests together. Ming Tsao was born in Berkeley, California, learning violin and viola before travelling to Suzhou, China, to study with the renowned Guqin (Chinese zither) performer Wu Zhao-ji. He began composing at the age of fourteen and eventually gained a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, San Diego. He was Professor of Composition at Göteborg University, Sweden and is currently Visiting Professor of Composition at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media in Germany. Recordings of his music can be found on the Kairos and Mode labels. His music is published by Edition Peters. He is represented by Karsten Witt Music Management.

Photo Credit: Markus Sepperer

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