Yoshiaki Onishi

Born in Hokkaido, Japan in 1981, Japanese-American composer/conductor Yoshiaki Onishi received his doctorate in music composition from Columbia University in 2015. His principal teachers there were Fabien Lévy, Fred Lerdahl, Tristan Murail and George Lewis. He received the Artist Diploma (2008) and the Master of Music degrees (2007) in music composition from Yale School of Music. Before Yale, he studied music composition, clarinet and conducting at University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music (Stockton, California), where he graduated in 2004 with the highest honor.

Written by a New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini in 2010 as: “[…] a composer who can draw such varied, eerily alluring sounds,” Onishi works on pieces that are performed worldwide, presented by such festivals and organizations as Philharmonie Luxembourg, Takefu International Music Festival, and Gaudeamus Muziekweek. Many ensembles, including Asko|Schönberg Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, JACK Quartet, Wet Ink Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and musicians of international calibers, such as Anssi Karttunen, Ari Streisfeld, and Linda Jankowska, have performed and championed Onishi’s music.  

With his 2010 work Départ dans…, he was awarded the Gaudeamus Prize 2011, one of the most prestigious awards given to young composers. With his Tramespace, diptych for large ensemble (2012-15), he became a two-time finalist for the Akutagawa Award in Music Composition in Japan, in 2013 and 2015. Other recent honors include an artistic residency fellowship from Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbertide, Italy, as well as a commission from Ensemble Intercontemporain as a result of Projet Tremplin.

As a conductor deeply engaged in promoting the music of today, he is one of the founding members of Ensemble Exophonie Tokyo and currently its Artistic Director/Conductor/Composer Associate. Recent conducting engagements include a concert “An Evening of Today 2014” with Nieuw Ensemble in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Previously he served as an assistant conductor to the Columbia University Orchestra from 2011 to 2013. He conducted many ensembles and orchestras, working closely with composers of his generation.

As a committed educator, he has held teaching positions at Columbia University, and Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, Japan.

His works are published by Edition Gravis in Berlin, Germany. His website can be found at: http://www.yoshionishi.com.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/yoshiakionishi
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/yoshiakionishi

Between Imagination and Realization: Composers and Metaphysical Spaces
Columbia Degrees: 
DMA, Composition
Degrees from Other Institutions: 
summa cum laude
Music Composition
University of the Pacific
Music Composition
Yale University
Artist Diploma
Music Composition
Yale University
Professional Positions: 
Associate Professor of Music Composition and Theory
Toho Gakuen School of Music
2015 to 2017
Composer, Conductor, Music Engraver, Translator