On April 10, 2014, Yale School of Music alumnus Andy Akiho '11 MM was announced as a winner of the 188th Rome Prize Competition at the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Rome Prize Ceremony at the Harmonie Club in New York City.
Andy Akiho was awarded the Luciano Berio Rome Prize to compose new works for orchestra. Described as “mold-breaking” and “vital” by The New York Times and as “a young composer to watch” by The LA Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic and contemporary composer whose recent engagements include a commission by Carnegie Hall premiered by Ensemble ACJW, a world premiere commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, a performance with the LA Philharmonic, a tour in Taiwan for the 2012 International Drum Festival, and three shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC featuring original compositions.
The Rome Prize is awarded annually to 30 individuals who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities. Each recipient is awarded a fellowship to finance their living and working space in Rome, where they will immerse themselves in the Rome Academy community for a period of 6–24 months. The program aims to cultivate an environment of collaborative scholarly flourishing and inspiration. The award is given to graduate and pre-doctoral fellows who are selected by eight juries.
Akiho, one of two musicians selected for this year's Rome Prize, add this accolade to many previous successes. In 2011, he was selected from an initial pool of over 500 applicants to win the grand prize for the Make Music National Composition Competition, hosted by the Grammy-winning ensemble eighth blackbird. In 2012 he won the Carlsbad Composer Competition to write a piece for the Calder String Quartet. He has also won the 2010 Horatio Parker Award at the Yale School of Music, three ASCAP Plus Awards, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, and a 2008 Brian M. Israel Prize.
Akiho has composed for, among others, the Bang on a Can Marathon, the Playground Ensemble, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Akiho’s compositions have been heard in a range of venues, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Symphony Space, Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, MASS MoCA, MCA Chicago, (le) Poisson Rouge, and John Zorn’s The Stone. His works have been featured on PBS’s “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and by organizations such as Meet the Composer, Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and The Society for New Music.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina (BM, performance), the Manhattan School of Music (MM, contemporary performance), and the Yale School of Music (MM, composition), Akiho is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, where he studies with Steve Mackey, Paul Lansky, Dan Trueman, and Dmitri Tymoczko. In 2014, Akiho will attend the Intimacy of Creativity Festival at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology as a composer fellow.
As a percussionist and steel pannist Akiho has performed with numerous professional ensembles, and his immersion in various genres has given him a unique approach to composition that weaves smooth, flowing sound with piercing and intricate architectural rhythms. After completing his bachelor's degree, Akiho made four extensive performance visits to Trinidad where he participated in the world’s premier steel pan event, Panorama. In 2002, Akiho won Second Prize in the World Steelband Music Festival solo competition. Akiho's debut CD No One To Know One on innova Records features innovative compositions that pose intricate rhythms and exotic timbres around the steel pan. Akiho plans to continue his career as a performer while placing a strong emphasis on his chamber and orchestral compositions.