Koh to direct Kennedy Center chamber series

Jennifer Koh, the violinist who performed in October with the Richmond Symphony, has been appointed artistic director of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts at Washington’s Kennedy Center. The position had been vacant since the series’ longtime director, pianist Joseph Kalichstein, died in March.

Koh will begin her Fortas tenure immediately, according to a news release from the Kennedy Center. Her first full season will be in 2024-25, and her engagement initially extends to spring 2026.

“[S]teeped in the traditional canon, while active in contemporary classical music as well,” Koh will bring a “unique curatorial eye” to the series, Kevin Struthers, the Kennedy Center’s director of programming for jazz, chamber, and classical new music, said in a statement accompanying the announcement of her appointment.

The 46-year-old violinist, born in Illinois to Korean parents, is a graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory and studied at the Curtis Institute of Music. She was silver medalist in the 1994 Tchaikovsky Competition, recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1995, and was named Musical America’s instrumentalist of the year in 2016. She performs as a soloist with major orchestras throughout the world, and as a recitalist with pianist Shai Wosner as a regular partner.

A leading advocate for contemporary music, Koh has commissioned dozens of pieces for her “Bach and Beyond,” “Alone Together” and “New American Concerto” projects. Her “Alone Together” recording won a 2022 Grammy Award for best instrumental solo. Koh is the founder and artistic director of the ARCO Collective, which supports educational activities and promotes new music by women and composers of color.