Salley Koo (on leave in 2024)
A violinist of great range and energy, Salley Koo has performed internationally as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician. Her recent calendar includes engagements as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral guest, and faculty in California, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Salley has appeared in concert at the Musikverein in Vienna, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Central Park, Music from Salem, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the National Cathedral and National Gallery in Washington D.C., Columbia Museum of Art, the Harris Theater in Chicago, the Nasher Series in Dallas, the Peoples Symphony Concerts, the Ojai, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Skaneateles, and Caramoor Festivals, and on tour alongside artists ranging from Bela Fleck to Dawn Upshaw to Gil Shaham. She soloed with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra and recently returned a third time to Lebanon as artist in residence with the IMAGINE Workshop and Concert Series at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon. She is regularly invited as a guest artist with groups such as the Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Knights.
Dr. Koo’s engagement with the chamber music community, in particular, has yielded collaborations with world-renowned musicians including Peter Frankl, Yo Yo Ma, and Colin Carr, as well as with members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Peabody Trio, Emerson, Takacs, Jupiter, and Aizuri String Quartets. Her expansive musical interests range from early music to contemporary compositions. In the former vein, she has performed in period groups and recorded for Centaur; in the latter, she has worked closely with composers like Caroline Mallonee, Paul Wiancko, Julia Wolf, Mario Davidovsky, Steven Mackey, Osvoldo Golijov, as well as members of the So Percussion Quartet. Salley is also a familiar face at numerous festivals including the Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Taos School of Music, the Tanglewood Music Center, Pacific Music Festival, and Thy Chamber Festival in Denmark.
Despite a performance itinerary that has covered North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, Dr. Koo has established a thriving teaching career. She is thrilled to join old friends and new colleagues at the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as assistant professor of violin in the Fall of 2022. Previously, Dr. Koo has served as violin professor at both Adelphi University in NY, Montclair State University in NJ, visiting lecturer at UIUC, and violin professor and coordinator of chamber music at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, CT; other faculty appointments include the Green Lake Chamber Music Festival in WI, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in New Hampshire, Dwight-Englewood String Society in New Jersey, Vermont’s Young Artist Program at Yellow Barn, the Opus 118 We Want Music! program in East Harlem, New York, Elm City ChamberFest, and the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut.
Hailing from Chicago, where she studied with Almita and Roland Vamos at the Music Center of the North Shore (now Music Institute of Chicago), Salley then earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University in English and American Literature, continuing her violin studies with Lynn Chang. She subsequently received a Master of Music and pursued Artist Diploma work from the Yale School of Music under the tutelage of Peter Oundjian. She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance at Stony Brook University under Pamela Frank and Philip Setzer. Over the course of her extensive training, Dr. Koo has studied with numerous other luminaries, including David Taylor, Sylvie Koval, and Dorothy Kitchen.
Salley currently performs on a violin made for her by Mario Miralles. When she’s not playing the violin, she’s likely to be found cooking or planning where to eat next with her husband, Alex, or playing with their dogs in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.