Naomi Woo is a prominent young Canadian conductor and pianist. The current Assistant Conductor and Community Ambassador of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, she is a frequent guest conductor across Canada and is a finalist for the position of Artistic and Music Director of l’Orchestre Symphonique de l’Estuaire. In the 2021–22 season, she made debut appearances with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, Regina Symphony Orchestra, and Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and will also conduct rehearsals of the Orchestre Métropolitain, having been chosen by Yannick Nezet-Seguin for the orchestra’s inaugural conducting academy.
Ms. Woo has conducted more than a dozen operas with students and young professionals in the U.S. and the U.K., and collaboratively created new, genre-bending operatic works with Sasha Amaya and Catherine Kontz (A Certain Sense of Order, Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2017), Sophie Seita (Beethoven Was a Lesbian, Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2020), and Alex Ho/Julia Cheng (dramaturg for UNTOLD, Snape Maltings 2019). She was recently in residence at the 2022 Women Opera Makers Workshop in Aix-en-Provence, and in 2018, was one of only 12 conductors accepted into the first training course for women conductors at the National Opera Studio, hosted by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Royal Opera House. Upcoming opera projects include Du Yan’s Pulitzer-prize winning Angel’s Bone (Re:Opera), and Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s The Night Falls (BalletCollective / American Opera Projects).
Ms. Woo’s passion for new work and artistic creation has also led to trainings and residencies at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse, the International Ensemble Modern Academy at Klangspuren Schwaz, Nida Art Colony (Vilnius Academy of the Arts), the Cortona Sessions for New Music, and more. As a pianist, she has been a prize winner at the Eckhardt-Grammatté Competition for Canadian and Contemporary Music, and winner of the Hélène Roberge Prize for Canadian Music. She is an artist with Tangram, an ensemble devoted to celebrating the vitality of Chinese cultures, and creating new music by transnational Chinese creators.
Also passionate about education, Ms. Woo is Music Director of the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra and has made guest conducting and lecturing appearances at Oberlin Conservatory and the Royal Academy of Music. As the first-ever music director of Sistema Winnipeg, a programme that uses music as a tool for social change, a commitment to using music to imaginatively transform the world runs through all of her work, including her Ph.D. thesis from the University of Cambridge titled “The Practicality of the Impossible.”
Alongside her work as a conductor, Ms. Woo maintains an active career as a pianist. She has appeared twice with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as a soloist, in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos and conducting from the keyboard in Marianna Martinez’ Keyboard Concerto in A Major.
Ms. Woo holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She has also studied mathematics, philosophy, and music at Yale College, the Yale School of Music, and Université de Montréal. Her formative training before university took place at the Vancouver Academy of Music. She acknowledges generous support over the years from the Manitoba Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Help Musicians UK, and the BC Arts Council.
Ms. Woo will conduct The Orchestra Now on April 8, 2023.
Bio: March 2023