Zosha Di Castri

Francis Goelet Assistant Professor of Composition
Prof. Zosha Di Castri

Zosha Di Castri is a Canadian composer/pianist/sound artist, who joined Columbia University’s composition faculty in July 2014, as the Francis Goelet Assistant Professor of Music. Her work (which has been performed in Canada, the US, South America, Asia, and Europe) extends beyond purely concert music, including projects with electronics, sound arts, and collaborations with video and dance. She recently completed a commission titled Hunger for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with improvised drummer, designed to accompany Peter Foldes’ 1973 silent film by the same name. She also wrote Long Is the Journey, Short Is the Memory for orchestra and chorus, to open the first night of the BBC Proms, featuring the BBC Symphony, the BBC Singers, and conductor Karina Canellakis in July 2019 at Royal Albert Hall. Other large-scale projects include a 25-min piece for soprano, recorded narrator and orchestra entitled Dear Life (based on a short-story by Alice Munro), and an evening-length new music theatre piece, Phonobellow (co-written with David Adamcyk) for ICE with performances in New York and Montreal. Phonobellow features five musicians, a large kinetic sound sculpture, electronics, and video in a reflection on the influence of photography and phonography on human perception.

Di Castri’s orchestral compositions have been commissioned by John Adams, the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Esprit Orchestra, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the BBC, and have been featured by the Tokyo Symphony, Amazonas Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra among others. Zosha has made appearances with the Chicago Symphony, the L.A. Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in their chamber music series and has worked with many leading new music groups including Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink, Ekmeles, Yarn/Wire, the NEM, Ensemble Cairn, and JACK Quartet. She was the recipient of the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for her work Cortège in 2012, and participated in Ircam's Manifeste Festival in Paris, writing an interactive electronic work for Thomas Hauert's dance company, ZOO.

Other recent projects include a string quartet for the Banff International String Quartet Competition, a piece for Yarn/Wire for two pianists, two percussionists and electronics premiered at her Miller Theatre portrait concert, a solo piano work for Julia Den Boer commissioned by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust Fund, a piano/violin duo with Jenny Koh, and a string octet premiered by JACK Quartet and Parker Quartet at the Banff Centre. Upcoming projects include a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress for percussionist Steve Schick and ICE, a commission for the Grossman Ensemble in Chicago, and a new chamber work for The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Zosha was an inaugural fellow at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris in 2018-19. Her debut album Tachitipo, released November 2019 to critical acclaim, can be found on New Focus Recordings.

how many bodies have we to pass through

ICE_Phonobellow_PROMO

Canadian Commission Round: Rolston String Quartet - Zosha Di Castri, Quartet No. 1

Recent Publications

November, 2019
Columbia Degrees: 
DMA, Composition
2014
Degrees from Other Institutions: 
International Program
Sciences Po
2007
BMus
Composition & Piano Performance
McGill University
2007

Select Recent Compositions

***Scores published by the Canadian Music Centre, Montreal Branch

  • Long Is the Journey, Short Is the Memory for orchestra and chorus (2019) 16 min. Commissioned by the BBC Proms. Premiered by the BBC Symphony and BBC Singers; Karina Canellakis, cond., London, Royal Albert Hall, July 19, 2019.
  • Hunger for orchestra, improvised drummer, and silent film (2018) 12 min. Premiered by the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal; Kent Nagano, cond., Michel Lambert, drums; Montreal, February 9, 2019; Commissioned by the OSM.
  • The Contours of Absence, for string octet (double quartet) 14 min. Commissioned by the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity. Premiered by JACK Quartet and Parker Quartet, Banff, July 20, 2018.
  • Sprung Testament, in three movements,for piano and violin. Co-commissioned by Arco Collaborative and the UBC Music and Arts Library. Premiered by Jenny Koh and Zosha Di Castri, Brooklyn, March 15, 2018.
  • how many bodies have we to pass through, for solo percussion (2017, rev.2019), 15 min. Premiered at the Maison Francaise, New York, by Diego Espinosa Cruz Gonzalez, September 22, 2017.
  • Dux, for solo piano (2017), 12 min. Commissioned by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust Fund in collaboration with pianist Julia Den Boer. Premiered at the Banff Centre’s Rolston Hall as part of short-term artistic residency, Banff, March 15, 2017.
  • Tachitipo, for two pianists, two percussionists, and electronics (2016) 24 min. Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts. Premiered by Yarn/Wire at Miller Theatre, New York, December 1, 2016.
  • String Quartet No.1, for two violins, viola, and cello (2016) 10 min. Commissioned by Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, in partnership with The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Americas Society. Premiered by the competitors of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, Banff, September 2, 2016.
  • Patina, for solo violin (2016), 4 min. Premiered at National Sawdust as part of the New York Philharmonic Biennial by Jenny Koh, Brooklyn, May 31, 2016.
  • Near Mute Force, for two female voices, viola, piano, and drum set (2016). Revised and adapted for 2 voices, viola, piano, drum set, plus aux percussion. 11 min. Commissioned by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto. Premiered by the Danns at the University of Toronto, April 7, 2016. Revised version premiered by Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, and Anne Lanzilotti at Miller Theatre, New York, December 1, 2016.
  • Anssi de suite…, for solo cello (2015), 4 min. Premiered at the Scandinavia House by Anssi Karttunen, New York, October 2015.
  • Dear Life for orchestra, soprano, and recorded narrator (2015) 25 min. Commissioned by the NACO. Premiered by the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada; Alexander Shelley, cond., Erin Wall, sop.; Ottawa, September 16, 2015.
  • Phonobellow, for saxophone, bassoon, percussion, piano, violin, electronics, and interactive kinetic sound sculpture. Co-composed with David Adamcyk (2015) 60 min. Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts. Premiered by ICE; New York/Montreal, March 2015.
  • Serafiniana for orchestra, amplified solo violin, amplified harp, and electronics (2014) 15 min. Commissioned by Esprit Orchestra with support from Michael Koerner. Premiered by Esprit Orchestra; Alex Pauk, cond., Claudia Schaer, solo vn.; Toronto, May 2014.
  • The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, for six singers and electronics (2013) 12 min. Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts. Premiered by Ekmeles; Jeff Gavett, cond., New York, November 2013.
  • Lineage for large orchestra (2013) 11 min. Co-commissioned by SFS, NWS, and Boosey & Hawkes. Premiered by the New World Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas, cond., Miami Beach, April 2013; Revised version premiered by the San Francisco Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas, cond., San Francisco, September 2013.
  • Phonotopographie for 15 musicians (2012) 18 min. Premiered by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne; Lorraine Vaillancourt, cond., Montreal, November 2012.
  • Everything Too Big To Take Apart, for tape and interactive wii controller, for dance (2012) 11 min. Premiered with ZOO; Thomas Hauert, choreographer, Paris, June 2012.
  • Alba for orchestra (2011) 9 min. Premiered at the Cabrillo Festival; Marin Alsop, cond., Santa Cruz, August 2011. Commissioned by John Adams.
  • Strange Matter for 8 musicians (2011) 9 min. Premiered by Talea Ensemble; Yoshiaki Onishi, cond., New York, April 2011.
  • Cortège for 13 musicians (2010) 8 min. Premiered by members of the Orchestre national de Lorraine; Jean Deroyer, cond., Metz, July 2010.
  • La forma dello spazio, for Pierrot ensemble (2010) 8 min. Premiered at the Banff Centre featuring violinist Claudia Schaer; Henk Guittart, cond., July 2010. Commissioned by The Banff Centre with support by Barbara C. Poole & Family.

Recent publications

ARTICLES

  • Di Castri, Zosha. “Tachitipo – The Living Passport.” In “Arcana IX – Musicians On Music,” edited by John Zorn, 62-73. For publication Winter 2021.
  • Di Castri, Zosha. “Music as Refuge: Stillness in Brian Cherney’s Mature Piano Works.” In Intersections Canadian Journal of Music, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2017, edited by Robin Elliott, 53-81.
  • Di Castri, Zosha. “Sketching Maps: Deciphering Canada’s New Music Scene.” In Music On Main – The Composer Essay Project, commissioned for ISCM’s World New Music Days 2017. Hard copies November 2017, digitally published January 2018.
  • Di Castri, Zosha. “Vocal Evocations.” Association of Canadian Women Composers Bulletin, December 2013.
  • Di Castri, Zosha. Contributed to: “A Compendium of Ideas About Form in Music.” In Music On Main – The Composer Essay Project,, edited by Jocelyn Morlock, August 2013.

DISCOGRAPHY

  • how many bodies have we to pass through, music video with Diego Espinosa Cruz Gonzalez, recorded at Reid Hall, Paris, France, released by New Focus Recordings, November 2019
  • Debut solo chamber album Tachitipo with ICE, JACK Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, Julia Den Boer, conducted by Lorraine Vaillancourt, produced by Martha de Francisco, released by New Focus Recordings, November 2019
  • Life Reflected, recording of orchestra piece Dear Life, with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, directed by Alexandre Shelley, Analekta Records, 2017
  • Canadian Composers by Gruppo Montebello, directed by Henk Guittart, featuring La forma dello spazio alongside Taylor Brook, Justin Christensen, and Brian Current, Etcetera Records, 2017
  • BISQC 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition Winners Compilation CDs, featuring my Quartet No.1 performed by Tesla Quartet, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Discs, 2016

SELECT PUBLICATIONS ABOUT DI CASTRI’S WORK

  • Duguay, Michèle. “Physical Balance, Gravity, and Tension in Contemporary Piano Works.” MTSNYS journal, 2019 Patricia Carpenter Emerging Scholar Award, Theory and Practice, 2020.
  • Mason, Will. “Expression and Technologies of Perception in Zosha Di Castri and David Adamcyk’s Phonobellow (2015).” In Oxford Handbook of Spectral and Post-Spectral Music,ed. Amy Bauer and Will Mason. Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Fung, Vivian. “Motherhood and the Creative Process.” In Music On Main – The Composer Essay Project, December 2018.
  • Morrison, Landon. “Strange yet Familiar Sounds in Zosha Di Castri’s String Quartet No.1.” In Circuit Musiques Contemporaines Magazine, Volume 28, Issue 2, Instrumentarium baroque, 2018, 83-98.
  • Mason, Will. “French Spectralism’s Technological Legacy in Di Castri and Adamcyk’s Phonobellow (2015).” American Musicological Society Annual Meeting, November 2017, Rochester, NY.
  • Lipski, Gloria. “Zosha Di Castri gives listeners something to see.” MusicWorks Magazine (with accompanying CD), Issue 114, November 2012.

Research interests

Digital Audio Workspace Sketching; Music, Movement, and the Body; Performative Sound Installations; Diversity in Composition; Feminist Pedagogy; Sound Arts; Interdisciplinary Collaborative Projects; The Piano Music of Brian Cherney; Canadian New Music; Sound Recording; Contemporary Orchestral Music. Also involvement in community based projects, such as the ongoing workshop For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound, a multi-year initiative with seed funding from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, that invites girls and young women of color from NYC’s public high schools to Columbia to create, record, and reflect upon their work in sound. 

Courses at Columbia

UNDERGRADUATE COURSES

  • Humanities UN1123, Masterpieces of Western Music
  • Music UN3241, Advanced Composition I
  • Music UN3310, Techniques of 20th Century Music
  • Independent Studies in Composition

GRADUATE COURSES

  • Music GR6380, Music Since 1900 (II)
  • Music GR8231 & GR8232, Seminar in Music Composition
  • Music GR8256, Composing for Dance
  • Composition Lessons