2023 Competition Panelist
Called “alluring” and “wildly inventive” by The New York Times, the “arresting” (Gramophone) and “irresistible” (San Francisco Chronicle) music of Vietnamese-American composer Viet Cuong (b. 1990) has been commissioned and performed on six continents by musicians and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, Eighth Blackbird, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sō Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, Atlanta Symphony, Sandbox Percussion, Albany Symphony, PRISM Quartet, and Dallas Winds, among many others. Cuong’s music has been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, National Gallery of Art, and Library of Congress, and his works for wind ensemble have amassed several hundreds of performances worldwide, including at Midwest, WASBE, and CBDNA conferences.
In his music Cuong enjoys exploring the unexpected and whimsical, and he is often drawn to projects where he can make peculiar combinations and sounds feel enchanting or oddly satisfying. His notable works thus include concerti for tuba and dueling oboes, percussion quartets utilizing wine glasses and sandpaper, and pieces for double reed sextet, cello octet, and solo snare drum. This eclecticism extends to the variety of musical groups he writes for, and he has worked closely with ensembles ranging from middle school bands to Grammy-winning orchestras and chamber ensembles. His wind ensemble works are widely performed, having been programmed by the world’s preeminent wind bands such as the Dallas Winds and military bands including the United States Navy Band, “President’s Own” Marine Band, “Pershing’s Own” Army Band, Army Field Band, Coast Guard Band, and Air Force Band. These works have also been performed by the top wind ensembles at academic institutions such as the University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, University of North Texas, Louisiana State University, University of Miami, and Michigan State University. Passionate about bringing all these different facets of the contemporary music community together, his recent works include Vital Sines, a concerto for Eighth Blackbird and the United States Navy Band, and Re(new)al, a concerto for percussion quartet with a variety of ensemble accompaniments.
Cuong is the Pacific Symphony’s current Composer-in-Residence, and from 2020-23 was the California Symphony’s Young American Composer-in-Residence. He has held artist residencies at Copland House, Yaddo, Ucross, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and at Dumbarton Oaks, where he served as the 2020 Early-Career Musician-in-Residence. His music has been awarded the Barlow Prize, William D. Revelli Prize, Frederick Fennell Prize, Walter Beeler Memorial Prize, Barlow Endowment Commission, ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Award, Theodore Presser Foundation Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Cortona Prize, New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, and Boston GuitarFest Composition Prize.
Cuong serves as Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he teaches composition, orchestration, and music theory. He holds degrees in music composition from Princeton University (MFA/PhD), the Curtis Institute of Music (Artist Diploma), and the Peabody Conservatory (BM/MM). His mentors include Jennifer Higdon, David Serkin Ludwig, Donnacha Dennehy, Steve Mackey, Dan Trueman, Dmitri Tymoczko, Kevin Puts, and Oscar Bettison. During his studies, he held the Daniel W. Dietrich II Composition Fellowship at Curtis, Naumburg and Roger Sessions Fellowships at Princeton, and Evergreen House Foundation scholarship at Peabody, where he was also awarded the Peabody Alumni Award (the Valedictorian honor) and Gustav Klemm Award. A scholarship student at the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Lake Champlain music festivals, Cuong has been a fellow at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s DeGaetano Institute, Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute, Mizzou International Composers Festival, Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, Cabrillo Festival’s Young Composer Workshop, Cortona Sessions, and Copland House’s CULTIVATE workshop.