Korean-American composer, vocalist and sound artist Bora Yoon creates immersive musical soundscapes using digital devices, voice, found objects and instruments from a variety of cultures and historical centuries – evoking memory and association, to formulate a sensory multimedia storytelling through sound, noise, gesture, and music.
Featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and in WIRE Magazine for her musical innovations, — Yoon’s works have been presented by Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, TED, the Nam June Paik Art Center (Korea), Festival of World Cultures (Poland), Park Avenue Armory, MADE Festival (Sweden) and Walker Art Center, and universities around the world.
Commissions in collaboration with architecture include choral surround-sound composition "Semaphore Conductus", kinetic choral work , “Doppler Dreams” for sopranos on bicycles in a historic WPA abandoned pool, carillon and electronics work “SOUNDFIELDS” featuring the Class of 1892 bells with the Princeton Laptop Orchesra, “ARCO”, the first symphonic commission created specifically for the vast Park Avenue Armory drill hall space, “TOWER” within Ann Hamilton’s tower in Oliver Ranch.
Her music has been awarded by the New York Foundation for the Arts, Asian American Arts Alliance, Billboard, BMI, and the Arion Foundation; published by SubRosa, Innova, Swirl Records, and the Journal of Popular Noise; and commissioned by So Percussion, SYMPHO, Metropolis Ensemble, Young People’s Chorus of NYC, the Sayaka Ladies Consort of Tokyo, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Alarm Will Sound.
Collaborators range across many spectrum of form, including late poet Sekou Sundiata, site-specific choreographer Noémie Lafrance, live visualist Joshue Ott, composer Michael Gordon (Bang On A Can), Iceland-based producer Ben Frost (Bedroom Community), thereminist Armen Ra, guitarist Kaki King, and longtime collaborator, data artist R. Luke DuBois.
Her work is featured scoring and performing the live music for Haruki Murakami’s “Wind Up Bird Chronicle”– an interdisciplinary theatre adaptation directed by Stephen Earnhart, presented by the Barshynikov Arts Center and the Asia Society, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival and the Singapore Arts Festival.
Her last release and award-winning record SUNKEN CATHEDRAL (INNOVA) was released in multi-media formats as limited-edition LP kinetic art objects, original music videos featuring the kinetic sculptures of Korean artist U-ram Choe (bitforms gallery), and as a staged opera (PROTOTYPE Festival, HERE Arts, Beth Morrison Projects).
Yoon is a TED fellow, and a doctoral candidate in music composition and the interdisciplinary humanities at Princeton University.
// RESEARCH FOCUS
The purpose of my research is to trace the parallels between musical instruments, and architecture to examine how sound, space, and scale affect our interactions and engagement w/ one another— and how those dynamics can be harnessed and fostered to optimal exchange, harmony, and circulation.
The research question I am addressing is: despite musical’s ephemerality, and architectures’ concreteness, how do these mediums create a 3rd space, a liminal space, of elevation, reflection, new perspective, even transport, via psychoacoustic means? How do these places serve, musically, architecturally, and civically?
What excites me most about my research is: featuring an unusual spectrum of remarkable and wondrous studies — each one, a surreal feat of engineering and vision — to discuss a rare and form-breaking compendium of musical architectural instruments, in material, digital, and sculptural form. I’m excited to formulate an idea of what these extraordinary measures have created, as an emerging language, bridging together many disciplines + philosophies, and forms, across centuries, and technologies. To view what is achievable, when utilizing/exploiting scale, alterations of proportion, and entrainment (synchronicity, agency, and will).
My research is important because it demonstrates the liminality of both sound and space, and what it afford us (across borders, boundaries, genres, divisions, and through nonverbal means). How it connects diverse people together in nonverbal ways, and a sense of place, whether that is inward, or actual. And how these spaces serve in a non-denominational function, as a civic place of contemplation, and shared humanity, a perspective, and balm especially needed in a time of rising xenophobia. The reminder of a common z-space, can be a powerful thing to pay attention to.
Sunken Cathedral [Innova]
Journal of Popular Noise
( (( PHONATION )) ) [Swirl Records]
Sound UnBound [MIT Press / SubRosa]
Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Singapore Arts Festival, Nam Jun Paik Art Center (South Korea), Visiones Sonoras (Mexico), MADE Festival (Sweden), Festival of World Cultures (Poland), Gyeonggi Media Performance Festival (Korea), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Brooklyn Museum, SITE Santa Fe, and NYC's 55,000 sq. ft. historic McCarren Park Pool, and Park Avenue Armory drill hall.
Recognition & Awards
New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (Music/Sound)
Asian American Arts Alliance | United Artists Initiative
New Jersey State Council for the Arts
Sorel Organization for Women Composers, Recording Grant
BMI Song Award
John Lennon Songwriting Award
Interdisciplinary Humanities Fellowship | Princeton University
SOUND UNBOUND, MIT Press | SubRosa
Journal of Popular Noise, Volume 8, Disc 3
Sunken Cathedral, Innova Recordings
Singing the Body Electric: The Human Voice and Sound Technology: a book by Miriama Young, Ashgate Books (featured interview transcripts with Paul Lansky, Trevor Wishart, Bora Yoon, and more).
New York Artists, a book by Bomi Son.
( (( PHONATION )) ), Swirl Records
Proscenium, Swirl Records
Bora Yoon, Swirl Records
NYFA Collection: 25 years of Music/Sound Fellows of the New York Foundation for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works Podcast