Canadian musician Naomi Woo is a 29-year-old conductor, pianist, and musicologist. She joins the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Conductor in the 2019-2020 season. She recently held the position of Conducting Scholar for the Cambridge University Orchestra in 2017-2018, assisting conductors Jac Van Steen and Sir Mark Elder, and conducting the orchestra in a week-long tour to Tuscany. She has also conducted ensembles including the Clare College Music Society, the Berkeley College Orchestra, and the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and has been an invited conductor for the Cambridge Brahms Festival and the Cambridge Female Composers Festival.
Especially interested in contemporary music, Naomi looks forward to being involved with the Winnipeg New Music Festival during her upcoming tenure as assistant conductor. She is a conducting fellow at the International Ensemble Modern Academy at Klangspuren Schwaz, and was recently invited to conduct the Cambridge New Music Ensemble at Stapleford Granary as part of the Living Notes series, hosted by Donald MacLeod. In March 2018, she conducted the UK Premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Lumière et Pesanteur with the Cambridge University Sinfonia, and she has commissioned and conducted the world premiere of orchestral works by Emily Cooley, Joy Lisney, Stephen Feigenbaum, and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and staged vocal works by Susie Self (Spirit Wagon, 2014) and David Leigh (The Binding of Isaac, 2010). She is also a member of Tangram, an ensemble devoted to curating and performing new music of the Chinese diaspora.
As an opera conductor, Naomi has conducted productions of Holst’s Savitri (ADC Theatre), Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon (Clare College Music Society), Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Thomas Pasatieri’s Signor Deluso (Opera Theatre of Yale College), Mozart’s Idomeneo (Trinity College Music Society) and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte (Opera Theatre of Yale College). She was recently one of only 12 conductors accepted onto a training course at the National Opera Studio for women conductors, hosted by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Royal Opera House.
Outside of conducting, she has an active career as a pianist, spanning opera coaching, collaborative piano, and solo performance. She recently performed Carnival of the Animals alongside Tom Poster (October 2017) with the Cambridge University Orchestra, and has also performed as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Northwest (Seattle). Her performance of Prokofiev’s First Piano Sonata at Carnegie Hall in 2011 was praised as an “elegant performance” in the New York Times.
She is also passionate about education and outreach. She will be the first Music Director of Sistema Winnipeg, a programme offering daily musical tuition to children with the fewest resources at no cost to their families, and will conduct the Great West Life Kids Concert Series with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She has also been a volunteer with Sing Inside, a UK-based organisation delivering choral workshops in prisons around the country. While at Cambridge, she was an active educator, from teaching courses and supervising undergraduate dissertations, to delivering an all-ages workshop at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.
Naomi has collaboratively created musical performance work with Catherine Kontz and Sasha Amaya (A Certain Sense of Order) and Sophie Seita (Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Reveille Dans la Brûme) and participated in residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Nida Arts Colony (Lithuania), and the Darmstadt International Summer Courses (Germany). With Sasha Amaya, she runs tick tock, a performance company dedicated to sonic and choreographic performance. Their work has shown at Somerset House (London), Das Kapital (Berlin), The Round Church (Cambridge), Kunsthalle Darmstadt, among other venues.
Naomi holds degrees in mathematics and philosophy from Yale College, in piano performance from the Yale School of Music and Université de Montréal, and is completing a PhD in musicology at Cambridge University as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Her formative training before university took place at the Vancouver Academy of Music. She is grateful to generous support over the years from the Canada Council for the Arts, Help Musicians UK, and the BC Arts Council.