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Nkeiru Okoye, composer

Nkeiru Okoye

The music of Nkeiru Okoye [in-KIR-roo oh-KOY-yeh] has been performed on four continents.  An exciting voice in symphonic contemporary classical and educational/family repertoire, her music is notable for its accessible style, appeal to diverse audiences, and combining of contemporary classical, African-American, popular music, and West African influences.  Her best-known pieces include Voices Shouting Out, a short orchestral work; The Journey of Phillis Wheatley, a narrated demonstration piece; African Sketches, a piano suite; and Songs of Harriet Tubman, a song cycle from her upcoming folk opera about Tubman.

Dr. Okoye’s compositions have been performed by the Philadelphia, Detroit, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Richmond, and New Jersey Symphony Chamber orchestras, among others.  Her music has been recorded by the Moscow Symphony and Prague Radio Orchestras, and has been published by Oxford University Press.  Conductors of her  works include Thomas Wilkins, Charles Ansbacher, Julius Williams, John Varineau, Wes Kenney, and Julius Karr-Bartoli.

Dr. Okoye’s music has been presented at the International Consortium for Music of Africa and its Diaspora (ICMAD) (Oxford University, UK), Dialogue Between China and Africa in Music & Halim el-Dabh Symposium (Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, People’s Republic of China), and conferences of the College Music Society, National Association of Schools of Music, and National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Dr. Okoye has won awards and/or commendations from the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), Meet the Composer, Composers Collaborative, Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, Detroit Symphony, Ford-Mellon Foundation, ASCAP, Beneva Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies British-American Project.

Born and raised in New York, Nkeiru Okoye was the second daughter of a Nigerian father and an African-American mother.  She studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, and went on to earn a B.A. in music theory and composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in theory and composition at Rutgers University.  Her composition teachers and mentors have included Noel DaCosta, Adolphus Hailstork, Wendell Logan, and Robert Sirota.  Among her teaching credentials, she was an assistant professor of music at Morgan State University in Baltimore from 2001-05.

February 23, 2009