Described by the New York Times as having “especially eloquent playing,” Ken Hamao is a dynamic musician renowned for his sensitive interpretation. He performs on the viola in addition to the violin, and is an avid proponent of contemporary music.
Ken is a member of the Grammy-nominated Ensō String Quartet, whose recent seasons featured worldwide tours of Australia, Brazil, Colombia, and New Zealand, along with performances at the Kennedy, Kimmel, and Lincoln Centers. With the quartet, he helped found the Ensō Chamber Music Workshop in Connecticut, and has taught at the Astoria Music Festival, Interlochen Center for the Arts, SoCal Chamber Music Workshop, and the Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival. As a much sought-after chamber musician, he has collaborated with members of the Borromeo, Cavani, Daedalus, Guarneri, Momenta, and Verona Quartets, the Horszowski Trio, as well as former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Recent engagements as a soloist include concertos by Giya Kancheli, Kurt Rohde, and Tan Dun, the latter of which with the composer at the podium. In addition to his activities with the Ensō String Quartet, Ken is a core member of Argento Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Échappé, and New York Classical Players, and appears frequently with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and Talea Ensemble. An active presence in contemporary music, he has worked in close collaboration with eminent composers of our time, including John Adams, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Paul Moravec, Andrew Norman, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sean Shepherd, and John Zorn.
Ken attended both Columbia University and the Juilliard School as part of the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange Program, and received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Juilliard School. His mentors include Zakhar Bron, Ronald Copes, Masao Kawasaki, Robert Lipsett, and Mark Steinberg.
In addition to music, Ken’s passions involve aviation, cocktails, and cooking.