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. As a much sought-after chamber musician, he has collaborated with members of the Borromeo, Cavani, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Momenta, and Verona Quartets, the Horszowski Trio, as well as former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
As part of the Parker Quartet, Ken is on the faculty at the Department of Music at Harvard University and Guest Artist-in-Residence at the University of South Carolina. He was also a guest lecturer in violin at Dartmouth College, and has previously taught at the Astoria Chamber Music Festival, Banff Centre, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival, and SoCal Chamber Music Workshop. He has given masterclasses at Arkansas State, Lawrence, San Jose State, Temple, Utah State, and Washington Adventist Universities, University of Auckland, University of Iowa, and Victoria University of Wellington.
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. He also appears frequently with Argento Chamber Ensemble, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, New York Classical Players, River Oaks 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, Zosha di Castri, Chaya Czernowin, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Vijay Iyer, Paul Moravec, 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. His mentors include Zakhar Bron, Ronald Copes, Masao Kawasaki, Robert Lipsett, and Mark Steinberg.