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 the newest member of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet, the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music. Prior to joining the Parker Quartet, he was a member of the Ensō String Quartet from 2014 to 2018. Highlights with them include worldwide tours of Australia, Brazil, Colombia, and New Zealand, along with performances at the Kennedy, Kimmel, and Lincoln Centers. 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 quartet activities, 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, Chaya Czernowin, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Vijay Iyer, Magnus Lindberg, Andrew Norman, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sean Shepherd, Hans Tutschku, 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 with a dissertation on Benjamin Britten's string quartets. 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.