Composer Kay Rhie often draws her inspiration from the artistic traditions of various cultures. Her concerto for violin and large ensemble, which premiered in August 2008 at the Tanglewood Music Center, takes source materials from early paintings by Wassily Kandinsky. In her choral work Tears for Te Wano (2007), Maori and Latin chants are fused together while highlighting each distinct chant tradition. Reinterpreting the flow of time in music is an important topic for Rhie—ritual and meditative narratives of Indonesian gamelan and Korean music and the time-bending polyrhythms of African drumming are some of her key influences.
In the coming year, Rhie will work on a commission by renowned violinist Andrew Jennings. A multimovement piece, Songs Without Words will set a collection of poems—Azaleas, by the early modernist Korean poet Kim Sowol—to music. The project will take tonal and rhythmic cues from the speech rhythms of two different language groups—one stress-timed, and the other syllable-timed. Rhie will also create other chamber and orchestral works during her fellowship year.
A 2008 Charles Ives Fellowship recipient from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rhie has received honors and commissions from the Ojai Music Festival, Brave New Works, and the Tanglewood Music Center. She has held fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Tanglewood Music Center, the Banff Centre, and the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East. She studied piano performance and composition at the University of California at Los Angeles and holds a DMA in composition from Cornell University.