Called “alluring” and “wildly inventive” by The New York Times, the “ingenious” and “knockout” (Times Union) music of American composer Viet Cuong (b. 1990) has been performed on six continents by musicians and ensembles such as Sō Percussion, Eighth Blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Sandbox Percussion, the PRISM Quartet, JACK Quartet, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Minnesota Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Dallas Winds, and UT Austin Wind Ensemble, among many others. Viet’s music has been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and Library of Congress, and his works for wind ensemble have amassed hundreds of performances worldwide, including at Midwest, WASBE, and CBDNA conferences. Through his music Viet enjoys exploring the unexpected and whimsical, and he is often drawn to projects where he can make peculiar combinations and sounds feel enchanting or oddly satisfying. His recent works include a percussion quartet concerto, sextet for double reed instruments, snare drum solo, and, most recently, a tuba concerto. His upcoming projects include a double oboe concerto for the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra and a concerto for Eighth Blackbird with the United States Navy Band.
In 2020 Viet will be the Early-Career Musician-in-Residence at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. He holds an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Jennifer Higdon, David Ludwig, and Richard Danielpour. He also received his MFA from Princeton University as a Naumburg and Roger Sessions Fellow, and he is currently finishing his PhD there. At Princeton he studied with Steve Mackey, Donnacha Dennehy, Dan Trueman, Dmitri Tymoczko, Paul Lansky, and Louis Andriessen. Viet holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where his teachers were Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts and Oscar Bettison. While at Peabody, he was awarded the Peabody Alumni Award (the Valedictorian honor) and the Gustav Klemm Award for excellence in composition. Viet has been a fellow at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s DeGaetano Institute, Mizzou International Composers Festival, Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, Cabrillo Festival’s Young Composer Workshop, Copland House’s CULTIVATE emerging composers workshop, and was also a scholarship student at the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Lake Champlain music festivals. Additionally, he has received artist residencies from Yaddo, Copland House, Ucross Foundation, and Atlantic Center for the Arts (under Melinda Wagner, 2012 and Christopher Theofanidis, 2014).
Viet is a recipient of the Barlow Endowment Commission, Copland House Residency Award, ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Theodore Presser Foundation Music Award, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra Call for Scores, Cortona Prize, New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, Boston GuitarFest Composition Competition, and Walter Beeler Memorial Prize, among others. In addition, he received honorable mentions in the Harvey Gaul Composition Competition and two consecutive ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prizes. Scholarships include the Evergreen House Foundation scholarship at Peabody, a 2010 Susan and Ford Schumann Merit Scholarship from the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the 2011 Bachrach Memorial Gift from the Bowdoin International Music Festival.
Viet was born in West Hills, CA in 1990 and raised in Marietta, GA, where he attended Lassiter High School and was a member of the LHS band. Growing up, he played piano, percussion, and clarinet. Viet is a member of BMI, the American Composers Forum, and the Blue Dot Collective, a group of composers who focus on writing adventurous new music for wind band.
Viet pronounces his name as “Vee-EHT Kwawng,” though “VEE-it” is also fine. Viet is his first name and Cuong is his family name. His brother’s name is Nam.