Hailed as “sublime” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nkeiru Okoye’s genre-bending compositions reflect a dizzying range of influences — Gilbert & Sullivan, the Gershwins, Sondheim, Copland, gospel, jazz, and Schoenberg. Okoye writes in both the opera/theatre and symphonic mediums; and her works have been performed on five continents. Her cycle Songs of Harriet Tubman has become established repertoire for African American sopranos; her Voices Shouting Out has been on statewide music education curricula with Virginia Symphony and Grand Rapids Symphony; her suite African Sketches has been performed by pianists around the globe.
Okoye has received commissions, awards and honors from the NEA, Opera America, ASCAP, American Opera Projects, Meet The Composer, John Duffy Composer Institute, Composer’s Collaborative, Inc., the Walt Whitman Project, and the Yvar Mikhashov Trust for New Music for her compositions. Notably she is the recipient of three grants for female composers from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Her work has been recorded by Moscow Symphony, and the Dvorak Symphony Orchestra. She is profiled in the Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Music of Black Composers Coloring Book, Routledge’s African American Music: An Introduction textbook, and the Oxford University Press Anthology of Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora.
Versant in many compositional techniques, Okoye specializes in works that celebrate the African American experience. In 2018, the Charlotte Symphony commissioned her to write an orchestral piece in celebration of the city’s 250th anniversary. In the 2019-20 season, Okoye will have premieres of Black Bottom for Detroit Symphony’s Classical Roots Festival, for which she will be the composer in residence; and Tales from the Briar Patch, a rebooted version of Bre'r Rabbit stories, and a revival production of her landmark HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom, by Knoxville Opera.
Dr. Okoye is a board member of Composers Now. She holds a BM in Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and a Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition from Rutgers University.
Partial listing of performing ensembles, festivals and venues
Atlanta University Center-wide Orchestra • Boston Landmarks Orchestra • Buffalo Philharmonic • Cambridge Symphony Orchestra • Castle of our Skins • Central Michigan State University Orchestra • Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra • Charlotte Symphony Orchestra • Cleveland Opera Theater • Colour of Music Festival Orchestra • Composers Now! • DaCapo Players • Detroit Symphony • Downtown Music Productions • Essex County College Choir • Fort Collins Symphony • Gateways Music Festival Orchestra • Grand Rapids Symphony • Harlem Opera Theater • Hartford Opera Theater • Indianapolis Symphony • Lyric Fest • Mississippi Symphony • Mt. Holyoke College Orchestra • National Women’s Music Festival Orchestra • New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra • New Horizons Orchestra • New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players • Oberlin Opera Theater • Opera On Tap • Philadelphia Orchestra • Richmond Symphony • Rutgers University Symphony Orchestra • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra members • South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra • South Shore Opera Company of Chicago • String Orchestra of Brooklyn • San Diego State University Orchestra members • Tacoma Symphony • Toledo Symphony • Three on Three Productions • University City Orchestra (St. Louis, MO) • Virginia Symphony Orchestra • Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra • Youngstown Symphony Orchestra