Jean Ahn


A native of Korea, composer Jean Ahn began her music studies in piano and composition at an early age. Her creative output includes works ranging from solo instruments and chamber music to full orchestra, as well as choral, dance, and electroacoustic music. She received first prize at the Renée Fisher Competition and the Sejong Korean Music Competition. She has also received awards from the Korean National Music Composers Association, the De Lorenzo Prize in Music Composition, and the Isadora Duncan Award for Saltdoll. She was a Finalist for the Toulmin Prize (League of Orchestra Commissioning Competition) in 2019 and 2020, and was a Finalist for the American Prize.

Her works have been performed by the Berkeley Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Earplay, Khasma Duo, Chai Collective, Dinosaur Annex, Enhake, Untwelve, Ensemble Sur Plus, Contemporaneous Ensemble, Invoke String Quartet, haegeum master Sooyeon Lyuh, pianist Jihye Chang and pianist Lisa Moore of Bang on a Can. She was a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, June in Buffalo, and the Oregon Bach Festival, and in 2018, she was the featured speaker at the New American Music Festival in Sacramento, CA. Her compositions have been performed at New Music Miami, the Beijing Congress of the International Alliance for Women in Music, SEAMUS, the Spark Festival, the Women Composers Conference in Australia, the Women Composers Festival in Hartford, and the New York City Electronic Music Festival. Commissions include works for the SF Bach Choir, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Volti Chamber Choir, Duo Camaraderie, SF Choral Artists, Gayaguem Soloist JUL, the Locrian Chamber Players, and flutist Regina Yost. Her research into Korean folk songs, “Folksong Revisited”, has been presented at the College Music Society Symposium, the National Association of Singers Convention, and the Symposium for New Music in São Paulo, Brazil. With her folk song collection, she introduces Korean songs and techniques to professional performers in the US. The recording, with a pronunciation guide, will be published in 2023 by Hildegard Publishing Company. She completed her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music at Seoul National University, and her Ph.D at UC Berkeley, where her teachers included Edmund Campion, Cindy Cox, David Wessel, Jorge Liederman, and Richard Felciano. She has also studied electronic music at the Center for New Music And Technology, composing pieces for koto and electronics that exaggerate gestures from Asian traditional music. Her focus is on extending the limits of the performer while preserving the authenticity of the acoustic instrument.

She is the director of Ensemble ARI and is a lecturer at UC Berkeley. She is also the music director for CHIM studio, teaching music to special needs students. Contact: jean AT