Zubin Kanga is a pianist, composer, improviser and technologist. Based in London, he collaborates with many of the world’s leading composers including Thomas Adès, Michael Finnissy, George Benjamin and Steve Reich, and premiered more than 90 new works. His solo work in recent years has focused on new models of interaction between a live musician and new technologies, using film, AI, motion capture and virtual reality, particularly in a trilogy of piano and electronics programs beginning with Dark Twin in 2015; Cyborg Pianist in 2016/17, and in 2019, Piano Ex Machina.
Winner of the 2012 APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award for ‘Performance of the Year (NSW)’, Zubin was nominated for a 2015 AIR award for ‘Best Independent Classical Release’ for Piano Inside Out (Move records), and for Excellence in the 2013 APRA-AMCOS Art Music Awards. Other awards include the Michael Kieran Harvey Scholarship, ABC Limelight Award for Best Newcomer in 2010, Greta Parkinson Prize at the Royal Academy of Music and first prize in the inaugural Keys National Piano Competition.
A specialist in contemporary classical music, he has collaborated with many of the world’s leading composers including Thomas Adès, Michael Finnissy, George Benjamin, Steve Reich, Ross Edwards, Nigel Butterley, and Mary Finsterer. He is a member of Ensemble Offspring and the Marsyas Trio, and has performed piano duos with Rolf Hind and Thomas Adès. Zubin has also performed with Bang-on-a-Can All-Stars, Ensemble Plus-Minus, Endymion Ensemble, the Kreutzer Quartet, Halcyon and Synergy Percussion.
He has performed at many international festivals including the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festivals (UK), Melbourne Festival, BIFEM and Metropolis New Music Festival (Australia), Manifeste Festival (France) and Borealis Festival (Norway). Notably, Zubin has also performed as soloist, several concerti under the composer’s baton, including with Thomas Adès and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and with Beat Furrer and the London Sinfonietta.
As a composer, his solo piano works have been performed at the Waterloo and Bangor Festivals and broadcast on the BBC and ABC. Kanga’s work, Dead Leaves was selected to represent Australia at the 2018 International Rostrum of Composers.
In 2018 Kanga toured extensively through the UK and Europe, for Mälmo Contemporary Music Festival (Sweden), Klang Festival (Denmark), Podium Festival in Esslingen, and Darmstadt Summer Course and Festival (Germany), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Bristol Keyboard Festival, Turner Contemporary Festival, Bangor Music Festival, St John’s Smith Square, Nonclassical and The NVA’s All Your Bass videogame music festival (UK). He also performed at the CUBE in Graz, Austria and for the Societé de musique contemporaine in Lausanne with Marsyas Trio. In Australia, Kanga performed with multi-awardwinning composer and violist Brett Dean for Extended Play at Sydney’s City Recital Hall; for M LIVE! at Monash Academy of Performing Arts Piano series, Ensemble Offspring (including a children’s show in association with ABC Classic FM), and Australian Music Days.
2019 saw the critically acclaimed Piano Ex Machina tour in Australia – featuring works by Alexander Schubert, Adam de la Cour, John Rose, Kate Neal, Ben Carey, Tristan Coehlo and Kanga himself – to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne along with performances with Ensemble Offspring for Sydney Festival, Mona Foma, Classical: NEXT in Rotterdam, and more.
Other recent highlights include the London Contemporary Music and Cheltenham Music Festival, Waterloo Festival, Four Winds and TURA Totally Huge New Music Festival, Brett Dean’s Carriageworks series with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and for Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Journey Through The Cosmos series with Prof. Brian Cox. He has performed for Sydney Chamber Opera for Sydney Festival and Carriageworks including Mary Finsterer’s Biographica, Pierre Audi’s Passion and Romitelli’s An index of metals and; the world premiere of Elliot Gyger’s piano concerto, From Joyous Leaves, with Arcko Symphonic Ensemble in celebration of Nigel Butterley (broadcast on ABC Classic FM), along with several performances with Ensemble Offspring. In 2013 he premiered the solo piano work, Intimations of Luminous Clarity by Param Vir for the BBC Proms.
In addition to his solo recordings, Not Music Yet (Hospital Hill Recordings) and Piano Inside Out (Move), in 2015 Zubin also released a critically acclaimed recording with soprano Jane Sheldon, Chiaroscuro (Phosphor records), and featured on David Gorton’s Orfordness (métier/Divine Art), performing the eponymous work for solo piano.
Zubin is currently Leverhulme Research Fellow, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Honorary Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he completed his PhD. He is also Honorary Research Fellow at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
For further information and reviews, visit zubinkanga.com
“Zubin Kanga is the shaman. He is on fire. I never saw, and heard before, a classical pianist who is basically a jazz improviser [on] his best behaviour.” – audience member on social media (St John’s Smith Square Rhythmic Kaleidoscopes, 2018)
BBC3 interview with Zubin Kanga (19.08.2017): listen here
“this floored me… One of my best musical experiences of the year.” – The Rambler, 2016 (live review, London Contemporary Music Festival/In Search of Julius Eastman)
“Cyborg Pianist was slick and incredibly fun. Kanga is a dynamic and versatile pianist, bringing both virtuosity and a sense of play to his performances, deftly juggling the technical and dramatic requirements of the diverse works… a fascinating exploration of piano, theatre and technology.” – Limelight Magazine, 2016 (live review, Cyborg Pianist)
- "It's rare that music, regardless of genre, has the ability to truly astound. Zubin Kanga's album Piano Inside Out does.” (Piano Inside/Out, Move)Fine Music Magazine, 2015
- "Kanga's playing is characteristically sophisticated and commanding" (Piano Inside/Out, Move)Limelight Magazine, 2015
- “Understated and elegant, Kanga’s pianism shows an impeccable approach" (Chiaroscuro, Phosphor Records)The Australian, 2015
- “Kanga plays with authority, and arrays a rich palette of sonic colours... sheer listening pleasure.” (Not Music Yet, Hospital Hill)The Music Trust, 2015
- "virtuosic energy and devotion to artistic purpose, [Kanga's] project curatorship showing intelligent discernment"Sydney Morning Herald, 2012
- "an unforgettable evening of bold musical exploration... real and unpretentious [with] formidable technique"Canberra Times, 2011