Composers Festival spotlight: Viet Cuong

Resident composer Viet Cuong comes to the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival from Philadelphia, where he currently is studying in the Curtis Institute of Music‘s Artist Diploma program and finishing his PhD at Princeton University.

Born in West Hills, CA and raised in Marietta, GA (near Atlanta), Cuong also holds an MFA from Princeton. He earned his bachelor and master of music degrees from the Peabody Institute at The Johns Hopkins University, where he won the Peabody Alumni Award for being valedictorian and the Gustav Klemm Award for excellence in composition.

The piece Cuong has written for the MICF is called “Electric Aroma,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new works from the six other resident composers as part of the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre.

Cuong has had works performed by musicians and ensembles such as Sō Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, PRISM Quartet, JACK Quartet, Gregory Oakes, Mimi Stillman, Albany Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, among others.

His music has been featured in prestigious settings such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Aspen Music Festival, New Music Gathering, Midwest Clinic and many others, as well as on American Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”

Cuong’s previous residencies include the Yaddo Artist Retreat, Copland House, Ucross Foundation, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. He was a scholarship student at the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Lake Champlain music festivals, and has also been a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab  and the RED NOTE composition workshop.

Earlier this month, Cuong was selected to be one of seven young composers taking part in the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2019 Composer Institute. Other honors include the ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Theodore Presser Foundation Music Award, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra Call for Scores, New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, the Cortona Prize, and more.

He enjoys composing for wind ensemble, and is a member of the Blue Dot Collective, a group of composers who focus on writing adventurous new music for wind band. His works for winds have amassed over one hundred performances by conservatory and university ensembles worldwide.

For more about Viet Cuong, listen to his recent interview with KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program, and watch video of an interview from June 2017 in which he and members of Sandbox Percussion discussing Cuong’s concerto “Re(new)al.” You can hear some of Viet Cuong’s music in the embedded players below.

“Water, Wine, Brandy, Brine” performed on May 18, 2015 at Princeton University by So Percussion

“Wax and Wire” performed for Composers, Inc by Diane Maltester (clarinet), Hrabba Atladottir (violin), Thalia Moore (cello) and Renee Witon (piano)