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I am happy to share the news that I am one of twelve composers selected  for the Music Alive: New Partnerships Residencies through New Music USA. My residency will take place with The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra  under the direction of conductor Delta David Geir in November 2015. The residency will culminate with a premier of my symphonic work Full Circle and a new work for woodwind quintet. It is an honor  and I am so excited to be a part of this program. Funding for Music Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund.

Recent Recipient of the 2014 Artist Trust award and received the Carl & Jini Dellaccio GAP title to compose a new jazz chamber work Driftwood.



 The Alchemy Project

The Alchemy Project, is a new composer-led ensemble experiment that brings together five combustible sound chemists with powerful voices in jazz and orchestral work. Reconvening from their disparate locations in New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, South Africa and Seattle, the project features musicians who took part in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Intensive (JCOI) presented by The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and American Composers Orchestra in cooperation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. At this intensive, jazz composers were urged to bring their harmonic, rhythmic and improvisational artistry into the orchestral world. In the Alchemy Project, colleagues from the JCOI will create original works that weave the intricate expansiveness of orchestral writing into an improvisational sextet. These diverse and multi-generational composers are all band-leaders with a wide range of musical experiences. Reading their individual biographies highlights an amazing array of collaborations in improvisation and composition over the last 30 years. The experiment here is give each composer an arsenal of instruments, wielded by dynamic players, and full permission to ignite the collaborative fire and see what happens. In this intensive Seattle residency the septet will debut 10 new works written for this ensemble at The Royal Room and record them at David Lange Studios. Alchemy Project composers are Sumi Tonooka (piano), Erica Lindsay (tenor saxophone) Salim Washington (tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, bass clarinet & oboe), David Arend (acoustic bass) and Samantha Boshnack (trumpet & flugelhorn). In addition to these composers the band features Max Wood (drums) and Willem De Koch (trombone). Below, Sumi performs with another of the composers, Erica Lindsay. Sumi Tonooka, Erica Lindsay Quartet-Black Urgency from Sumi Tonooka on Vimeo. Websites of the other composers: Facebook Event Page For Malala For Malala is a new musical endeavor inspired by and dedicated to the young Pakistani student activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head for her advocacy of educating girls and all children in her home country. Her story has moved me to action by composing a special musical work as a form of musical advocacy. The new work will be premiered and recorded during the 2014-2015 season by the NorthWest Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Anthony Spain, and I will be the piano soloist. I am sharing this project at an early stage of its development in the hopes you might be interested in supporting the work. If you can support this project in any capacity, together we can make this idea a reality. Click here to learn more about the project and for the opportunity to help realize For Malala. Full Circle In August of 2012, I was one of 38 Jazz composers chosen from a National pool of applicants to attend the Jazz Composers Orchestra Intensive (JCOI) The selected composers were in various stages of their composing careers, working in jazz, improvised music, and creative music and their work had to demonstrate, excellent musicianship, originality, and potential for future growth. The week after attending the JCOI Intensive, I had a dream about trying to orchestrate the curve in the yin and yang sign. I laughed it off at first but then I started to wonder what that would actually sound like and thinking about this led me to exploring the ideas in Full Circle. In this work I wanted to deal musically with the idea of opposing life dynamics, life and death, love and hate, joy and suffering, the sweet and the sour, the yin and the yang. I wanted to create the feeling of spirals out of circles, experiment with contrasting textures, smooth, linear, and legato with jagged rough and staccato. I imagined the rhythm to have a feeling of unpredictability and surprise, with a sense of flow and various tempo’s accelerating and slowing down. I heard the harmony as floating, with a restless quality. Many of the musical idea’s in the piece were built on improvisations. The program was in two phases, the first phase, a study intensive and included many topics such as the culture of working with a symphony, dealing with a conductor as a collaborator, and techniques for structuring improvisation within the orchestral context. Upon completion of the Intensive, each participant was eligible to apply for inclusion in the Institute’s second phase, the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute New Music Readings, which was held in April to September 2013. Up to 18 composers were selected for participation in this second phase and composed an original work for orchestra during the intervening months between the two phases. I count myself fortunate and I am honored to have received a reading of my first orchestral work, Full Circle, by the American Composers Orchestra in NYC in June of 2013.