Hailed as “Sublime” by the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, Nkeiru Okoye’s compositions are a musical quilt that draw inspiration from a dizzying range of influences—Gilbert & Sullivan, the Gershwins, Sondheim, Copland, gospel, jazz, and Schoenberg. Her theatrical works have been presented by American Opera Projects, Oberlin Opera Theater, Cleveland Opera Theater, the South Shore Opera Company of Chicago, and Hartford Opera Theater. Her symphonic works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and countless regional orchestras. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an NEA Art Works grant for her opera, HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom; and a Female Composers Discovery Grant from Opera America, for her comedy, We’ve Got Our Eye On You.
Composer Nkeiru Okoye [in KEAR roo oh KOY yeh] creates works that are “emotionally charged and musically sublime” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). A native New Yorker of African American and Nigerian descent, her music is a patchwork quilt stitching together diverse musical styles.
Her first opera, HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom (2014), was developed with and premiered by American Opera Projects with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Hyde Park Herald review of the 2016 Chicago performance proclaimed, “The music is irresistible, invigorating, and vivid, building to an unforgettable and thrilling conclusion. It is a great American opera.”
Okoye is the recipient of a 2018 NYSCA Individual Artist Composer Commissioning Grant, a 2017 Opera America Female Composer Commissioning Grant, and a 2016 Opera America Female Composer Discovery Grant. She is also a winner of Houston Grand Opera’s “Song of Houston” competition. Current commissions include Tales from the Briar Patch for American Opera Projects, and an orchestral work for the Charlotte Symphony, in celebration of the city’s 250th anniversary.
Her orchestral works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, and many others across the United States. Her recently premiered Invitation to A Die-In (2017), for baritone and orchestra, pays tribute to unarmed African American men who have been killed by police officers, and was commissioned by Mt. Holyoke College Orchestra. Her most frequently performed orchestral work, Voices Shouting Out (2002), was commissioned by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Her narrated orchestral showcase PHILLIS WHEATELY (2005) was commissioned by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and recorded by the Moscow Symphony.
She is a current John Duffy Institute for New Opera Fellow, a composer in the “First Glimpse” program of American Opera Projects, and a former Resident Artist of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program. Okoye has garnered additional commendations from Meet the Composer, MetLife Creative Connections, Composer’s Collaborative, Inc., the Walt Whitman Project, and the Yvar Mikhashov Trust for New Music. Dr. Okoye is a board member of Composers Now. She holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Rutgers University.