Yoshiaki Onishi

Yoshiaki Onishi

Fellow: Awarded 2018
Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: US & Canada

Written by a New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini in 2010 as: “[…] a composer who can draw such varied, eerily alluring sounds,” Japanese-American composer/conductor Yoshiaki Onishi works on pieces that are performed worldwide, presented by such festivals and organizations as Festival Rainy Days at Philharmonie Luxembourg, Takefu International Music Festival, and Gaudeamus Muziekweek. Many ensembles and soloists of international calibers, including Asko|Schönberg Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, JACK Quartet, Momenta Quartet, Wet Ink Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Anssi Karttunen, Ari Streisfeld, and Linda Jankowska, have performed and championed Onishi’s music.

Through highly integrated musical structures, Onishi’s recent works explore ways to suggest the intertextual implications that reach out to other academic and artistic disciplines, as well as worldly and sociological phenomena. With his 2010 work Départ dans…, he was awarded the Gaudeamus Prize 2011, one of the most prestigious awards given to young composers. With his Tramespace, diptych for large ensemble (2012-15), he became a two-time finalist for the Akutagawa Award in Music Composition in Japan, in 2013 and 2015. Other recent honors include an artistic residency fellowship from Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbertide, Italy, as well as a commission from Ensemble Intercontemporain as a result of Projet Tremplin.

As a conductor deeply engaged in promoting the music of today, he is one of the founding members of Ensemble Exophonie Tokyo and currently its Artistic Director/Conductor/Composer Associate. Recent conducting engagements include a concert “An Evening of Today 2014” with Nieuw Ensemble in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Previously he served as an assistant conductor to the Columbia University Orchestra from 2011 to 2013. He has conducted many ensembles and orchestras, working closely with composers of his generation.

As a committed educator, he has held teaching positions at Columbia University and Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, Japan. He has made the guest lectures and appearances at the University of Hawai’i at Manoā, University of the Pacific, Columbia University and other academic institutions.

Onishi received his doctorate in music composition from Columbia University in 2015. He received the Artist Diploma (2008) and the Master of Music degrees (2007) in music composition from Yale School of Music. Before Yale, he studied music composition, clarinet and conducting at University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music (Stockton, California), where he graduated in 2004 with the highest honor.

His works are published by Edition Gravis in Berlin, Germany.

Départ dans… for five players (2010, rev. 2013)
Tramespace, diptych for large ensemble (2012-15)
Envoi II for string trio (2016)

Profile photograph by David Adamcyk

Scroll to Top