Described as “mold-breaking” and “vital” by The New York Times and as “a young composer to watch” by The LA Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic and contemporary composer/performer whose interests run from steel pan to traditional classical music. Recent engagements include a commission by Carnegie Hall premiered by Ensemble ACJW, a world premiere commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, a performance with the LA Philharmonic, a tour in Taiwan for the 2012 International Drum Festival, and three shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC featuring original compositions. His rhythmic compositions continue to increase in recognition: selected from an initial pool of over 500 applicants, Akiho won the grand prize for the 2011 Make Music National Composition Competition hosted by the Grammy-winning ensemble eighth blackbird and, in 2012, he won the Carlsbad Composer Competition to write a piece for the Calder String Quartet. Other recent awards include a 2012 Chamber Music America Grant with Sybarite5, the 2011 Woods Chandler Memorial Prize, a 2011 Music Alumni Award, the 2010 Horatio Parker Award at the Yale School of Music, three ASCAP Plus Awards, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, and a 2008 Brian M. Israel Prize. Akiho has composed for ETHEL, the Atlanta Symphony National Snare Drum Competition, the Bang on a Can Marathon, The Playground Ensemble, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Akiho’s compositions have been heard in a range of venues, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Symphony Space, Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, MASS MoCA, MCA Chicago, (le) Poisson Rouge, and John Zorn’s The Stone. His works have been featured on PBS’s “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and by organizations such as Meet the Composer, Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and The Society for New Music.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina (BM, performance), the Manhattan School of Music (MM, contemporary performance), and the Yale School of Music (MM, composition), Akiho is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, where he studies with Steve Mackey, Paul Lansky, Dan Trueman, and Dmitri Tymoczko. He has recently studied composition with Julia Wolfe, Christopher Theofanidis, Ezra Laderman, Martin Bresnick, and David Lang. In addition to attending the 2013 International Heidelberger Frühling, the 2011 Aspen Summer Music Festival, and the 2008 Bang on a Can Summer Festival as a composition fellow, Akiho was the composer in residence for the 2013 Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival and the 2012 Silicon Valley Music Festival. In 2014, Akiho will attend the Intimacy of Creativity Festival at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology as a composer fellow.
As a percussionist and steel pannist Akiho has performed with numerous professional ensembles, and his immersion in various genres has given him a unique approach to composition that weaves smooth, flowing sound with piercing and intricate architectural rhythms. Akiho’s unique style and inspiration stems largely from his experience as a steel pannist. After completing his bachelor's degree, Akiho made four extensive performance visits to Trinidad where he participated in the world’s premier steel pan event, Panorama. In 2002, Akiho won Second Prize in the World Steelband Music Festival solo competition. He has also performed and taught steel pan extensively in New York City. Akiho's debut CD No One To Know One on innova Records features innovative compositions that pose intricate rhythms and exotic timbres around the steel pan. Akiho plans to continue his career as a performer while placing a strong emphasis on his chamber and orchestral compositions.