Kay Kyurim Rhie is a composer of contemporary classical music of a wide-ranging palette of inspiration. Born in South Korea, she grew up in Los Angeles and trained in both the West and the East Coast. Her musical influences include film and jazz music, European avant-gardes as well as various literary traditions. In her choral work Tears for Te Wano, a 19th-century Maori chant and a 16th-century Renaissance motet are fused together while highlighting each distinct chant tradition. Her Three Miniatures for Piano uses a Korean folk tune as a descant, shrouds it in blues-infused harmony.
Rhie’s music in which “vehemence and reticence, intimacy and plainness co-exist” (American Academy of Arts and Letter) has found increasing audience across the country and abroad. Her music has been performed by such diverse groups as the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Aspen Summer Music Festival and Schools, the BBC Singers, Winsor Music, Ensemble X, Ardesco String Quartet, In Flux, the New Spectrum Ensemble, In Mulieribus, Seattle Promusica, Andrew/Gail Jennings Duo, Los Angeles Chamber Singers, California EAR Unit, Cornell University Glee Club and Cornell University Chorus, and Ithaca College Contemporary Ensemble. Some of her upcoming commissions include a chamber orchestra piece for Seoul Philarmonic’s New Music Series, Ars Nova for its 2017/18 season and a large ensemble piece for Ensemble X.
A recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rhie was the Rieman and Baketel Music Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University (2008-09). During her year at the Radcliffe Institute, she explored the relationship between vowel formants of two different languages and their harmonic realizations in her commission for the renowned violinist Andrew Jennings.
Rhie has enjoyed honors and residencies from the Ojai Music Festival, London Festival of American Music, the Tanglewood Music Center (Otto Eckstein Composition Fellow) where she was the winner of the Geffen-Solomon New Music Commission, Seal Bay Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival and School, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Seal Bay Chamber Music Festival, and the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East among others.
Originally from Seoul, she began playing the piano at age seven and continued her musical studies in Los Angeles. She studied piano performance and composition at the University of California at Los Angeles. She then received her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in composition at Cornell University. Her composition teachers include Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, Paul Chihara, Ian Krouse, David Lefkowitz, John Harbison, Samuel Adler, Stephen Hartke and Colin Matthews. She studied piano performance with Xak Bjerken, Malcolm Bilson, and Ick-Choo Moon.
Rhie has taught music theory and orchestration as Visiting Lecturer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. In 2016, she also worked as a researcher, overseeing an implementation of a pilot program of training young composers in their early teens in Korea.