Behind the Scenes with Grace Cho
Executive Director of the New Orchestra of Washington
At Choral Arts, we defy preconceived notions — exploring styles, arrangements, spaces, and collaborations that reimagine traditions and create surprising new ones. In our co-presentation of Día de los Muertos: Featuring Brahms’s Requiem with the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) this month, we’ll joyfully merge this German Requiem with the traditions of this Mexican holiday.
We spoke with Grace Cho, pianist and Executive Director of NOW, to learn more about her work and life behind the scenes. She is one of many groundbreaking collaborators in Choral Arts’ reimagined season.
Choral Arts: Could you tell us about your roles as the executive director and a musician with NOW?
Grace Cho: I am a co-founder and executive director of the New Orchestra of Washington, an innovative chamber orchestra that is reshaping the cultural landscape of the Greater DC area. In my former life, I was a concert and collaborative pianist and I try to balance my performing life along with my “bean-counting” life, transitioning between the computer keyboard and the piano keyboard.
Founding and seeing the growth of the orchestra has been one of the most fulfilling ventures of my life. We often joke that NOW is our first born and our human son, Santi is our second child. The best part about NOW is its amazing people. Absolutely everyone I meet, whether an audience member at a concert, a musician, a long-time supporter, or a coworker…is a singular, unique being who brings so much to the world. It’s been a true blessing to have the opportunity to build this wonderful community through the organization I care about so much.
“The best part about NOW is its amazing people. Absolutely everyone I meet, whether an audience member at a concert, a musician, a long-time supporter, or a coworker…is a singular, unique being who brings so much to the world.”
Choral Arts: Tell us about the last time you experienced “awe”.
Grace Cho: I got into yoga when my gym closed back in March. Having done maybe one yoga class since the birth of my 5 year old boy, I had to start with a “beginning yoga 101” but slowly and steadily built up my capabilities. The last time I experienced “awe” was a couple of weeks ago when I was finally able to do a really challenging pose; a full bound extended side angle. It was so hard. I was sweating like crazy but it was so fulfilling. There was definitely a pianist in me that wanted to tackle a difficult passage through practice and practice. I am sure my fellow musicians would understand that feeling of drilling something and finally getting it!
Choral Arts: What upcoming project(s) are you most looking forward to?
Grace Cho: I am looking forward to expanding my digital comfort level during this time. Without revealing too much about what we are cooking up over at NOW, I am excited about some of the conversations we’ve been having with our board members and staff. There is an opportunity for uncharted, new innovation and creativity in the digital world for classical organizations. Nothing can replace the experience of a live concert but I am excited to explore how to bring out the “awe” through technology.
Click here to learn more about the New Orchestra of Washington.
The New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) and Choral Arts celebrate Día de los Muertos in a joint presentation featuring Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem.