In this, its 150th year, Canada’s diversity is being celebrated across the country and across the globe. Naomi Woo’s family history is a fascinating example of the diversity of background and roads travelled by one unique and uniquely Canadian family. Naomi’s father – who in 2016 was named to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit as an independent – was born in Malaysia and moved to Canada in his 20s. Her mother was born in Victoria and can trace her roots to Loyalists – British Subjects in the Thirteen Colonies (now part of the United States) who were loyal to the British Crown – who first came to North America in the 1600s and moved to New Brunswick during the American War of Independence.
Naomi was born in Newfoundland and moved to Vancouver with her family when she was six years old.
Naomi studied Piano Performance in French at the Université de Montréal and earned a B.A. in Math and Philosophy and an M.Mus. in Piano Performance at Yale University.
Naomi is currently studying for a PhD in Musicology at Clare College Cambridge. The subject of Naomi’s doctoral dissertation is The Practicality of the Impossible: Performing Piano Études.
During her time at Cambridge Naomi has pursued a busy schedule of piano performance, including placing second at the 2016 Eckhardt-Grammatté Competition in Manitoba, and has studied with several famed piano teachers including Sir Christopher Elton. She co-founded Tick Tock, a UK and Canada-based sonic and choreographic collaboration that curates performances and events. Tick Tock has recently performed in London, Cambridge, Prague and Winnipeg and is currently working on an original opera with composer Catherine Kontz that will be performed at the Tète á Tète Opera Festival in London in August 2017.
Naomi was selected as the 2017-2018 Conducting Scholar for the Cambridge University Music Society. This honour will entail conducting the Cambridge University Sinfonia throughout the year, including in a full concert in March 2018. Naomi is particularly excited to conduct a piece by Finnish female composer Kaija Saariaho, alongside works by Elgar and Sibelius.
While at Cambridge Naomi has also found time to volunteer as a teaching artist in prisons through a student group called Sing Inside that offers workshops in UK prisons in partnership with the University’s Criminology Department. During these prison trips Naomi has been involved in teaching prisoners songs and performing alongside them.
When she graduates from Cambridge Naomi, who was awarded the CCSF’s prestigious Belle Shenkman Award for the Study of Arts, hopes to forge a career in performance and academia in Canada and abroad. (Photo credits to: Rune Oster Mortenson)