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April 10, 2023 1:00 pm EST






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(Image courtesy: Omaha Symphony)

Omaha Symphony to Present Andy Akiho World Premiere 

Akiho, a GRAMMY and Pulitzer-prize nominee, has written a new work honoring visual artist Jun Kaneko that will premiere on March 17–18, 2023


Andy Akiho is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and internationally acclaimed composer — known for his large-scale works and unique live performances. The only composer nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition division for 2021 and 2022, he is also a recent award recipient from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Commissioned by the Omaha Symphony, Akiho’s new piece for symphony orchestra, sculptures, and video, is inspired by and honors the work of visual artist Jun Kaneko, who was honored with the 2021 International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Each movement of the world premiere is inspired by one of Kaneko’s sculptures. The full piece will be performed with interludes — where Akiho will be playing on Kaneko’s multi-ton sculptures on-stage and on video.

Over the past year, Akiho has been in residence multiple times in Omaha to work on the world premiere piece, examining the pitch of the sculptures and repurposing them as instruments to play on. 

“The opportunity to live and work around Jun Kaneko and his sculptures has inspired me beyond belief,” Akiho told The Violin Channel. “This past year I've likely spent more time in Omaha than I have Portland, where I live, in the creation of this piece. 

“Getting to know this city, the Kanekos, and the incredible Omaha Symphony has resulted in a truly meaningful and fulfilling artistic synthesis," he continued. "I’m grateful for this truly collaborative and community-oriented experience.”

Dedicated to Kaneko, the concert on March 17 and 18, 2023, will be held at Nebraska’s Holland Center. To attend the performance, click here.

Other works will include Beethoven’s Overture and Prisoner's Chorus from Fidelio, Puccini’s Interlude and Humming Chorus from Madame Butterfly, and selections from Mozart’s The Magic Flute — opera productions that Kaneko has designed in the past, which have toured throughout the U.S. 

Akiho’s commissioned work is also part of honoring Jun and his wife, artist Ree Kaneko, as the 2023 winners of the Dick and Mary Holland Leadership Award — an annual award presented at the Omaha Symphony gala. The concert will be conducted by Ankush Kumar Bahl, and feature sopranos Karina Brazas and Jeni Houser, plus baritone Conor McDonald. A concert introduction can be viewed below.



Currently based in Portland, Oregon, and New York City, Akiho has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony, Oregon Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, and [email protected] Recent projects include his collaborative album “Oculus,” with photographer Stuart Rome

Based in Omaha since 1986, Kaneko was born in 1942 in Japan. After studying painting with Satoshi Ogawa in his youth, he journeyed to the U.S. in 1963 to study at the Chouinard Art Institute, where he was drawn to sculptural ceramics. Studying within the period now known as The Contemporary Ceramics Movement in America, Kaneko has since taught at leading American art schools.

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