TJ Cole (they/them) is a composer, synthesizer performer, producer, and collaborator currently based in Louisville, KY. Described as having “a very serious level of invention with their music” by conductor Teddy Abrams, their artistic pursuits span from classical composition, to electronic pop production, to experimental improvisation performance, reflecting their profound curiosity for various art forms and musical expressions.
In March 2023, TJ marked their soloist debut with the Louisville Orchestra, performing a synthesizer concerto of their own creation, titled "Phenomenal of the Earth." TJ's artistic contributions extended beyond this, as they were part of the inaugural class of the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps (2022-23). This year-long residency involved composing new large-scale works for the orchestra and spearheading community engagement initiatives across Louisville.
Additionally, TJ has received commissions from esteemed institutions and ensembles, including Carnegie Hall, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Time for Three, Music in the Vineyards, and numerous others.
Their compositions have been showcased by some of the most renowned ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and the Dover Quartet, among others. Additionally, they have collaborated on various ventures as an orchestrator and arranger with Time for Three and held the position of composer-in-residence at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in 2014.
TJ has taken part in composition programs such as the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, and the New Emerging Artists Festival. They also had the opportunity to study with Samuel Adler during a summer at the Freie Universität Berlin. Notably, their achievements include winning two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards, one in 2014 for their string orchestra work ‘Death of the Poet’, and another in 2020, which included the prestigious Leo Kaplan Award for their string sextet 'Playtime'.
TJ has a strong passion for collaborative endeavors. Currently, they are an active performer in Choir Siren, an electro-acoustic improvisation duo rooted in Louisville. Additionally, they have showcased their adaptability as a singer-songwriter, producer, and engineer in Twin Pixie, a fully electronic synth-pop band. Twin Pixie's creative direction revolved around the fusion of queerness, pop culture, and the supernatural.
TJ is deeply committed to music-related community engagement projects. In their yearlong ArtistYear Fellowship (2016-17), they co-facilitated musical performances and songwriting workshops with residents of Project HOME, a Philadelphia-based organization fighting to end chronic homelessness.
During the 2022-23 Louisville Orchestra Creator-Corps residency, TJ curated and composed music to accompany children's stories performed at various Louisville Free Public Libraries. They also collaborated with VOICES of Kentuckiana, an LGBTQ+ and allies community chorus in Louisville, on a project that shared the choir members' stories about their experiences with gender.
Furthermore, TJ worked with bassist Ranaan Meyer as an orchestrator on "The World We All Deserve Through Music" project and collaborated with Eric Huckins (Astral Artists) and the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia on an after-school program for children aged 6-12. This program aimed to nurture emotional self-awareness and self-expression through music and creativity.
TJ studied composition at both the Curtis Institute of Music and at Interlochen Arts Academy. Their mentors include John Boyle Jr., Jennifer Higdon, David Ludwig, and Richard Danielpour.
TJ takes pride in their identity as a queer and neurodivergent individual. Beyond their musical pursuits, they find joy in various activities, including cooking, creating visual art, playing video games, enjoying swing sets on playgrounds, learning about houseplants, and playing with their cat, Zucchini.
As a genderqueer/non-binary person, TJ kindly requests not to be included in events or settings intentionally promoted as exclusively featuring "all women composers" or anything similar. (However, this does not preclude their inclusion in concerts featuring compositions by women composers in other contexts.) Your understanding is greatly appreciated.