Cayenna Ponchione
Biography

Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Cayenna Ponchione is a UK-based conductor who is committed to environmental activism through the arts and the promotion of gender equity in conducting and composition. In addition to being music director of the GrassRoots Festival Orchestra in New York, Cayenna works regularly with student, amateur and professional ensembles in the US and the UK, including the Oxford Sinfonia, Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Southampton Orchestra, Oxford University Philharmonia, and the Kidlington Concert Brass. She was selected by Marin Alsop to participate in an exclusive conducting masterclass with the BBC Concert Orchestra in December 2015, and has twice been selected as a participant in the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra's conducting masterclasses, receiving coaching from Valery Gergiev.

Cayenna has recently completed a doctorate in music from the University of Oxford with a focus on authorship and creativity in orchestral performance and she holds masters degrees in percussion performance and orchestral conducting. She served as the sabbatical replacement for Professor of Percussion, Gordon Stout, at Ithaca College in 2004, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher on the AHRC funded research project at the University of Oxford, Transforming 19th-Century HIP. Cayenna's primary conducting tutors have been Neil Thomson, Grant Cooper, Jeffrey Grogan and Madeline Schatz.

Dedicated to integrating environmental and humanitarian issues with orchestral performance and the arts, Cayenna has received multiple prizes and grants for her collaborative and interdisciplinary work. A video featuring a recent project, Art, Science, & the Thirsty World, was installed throughout summer 2015 in the Arsenale di Venezia. An advocate of new music and women composers, she is collaborating with composer Rachel Lockwood on Displaced Voices, a commissioning project to set the words of refugees, and recently premiered a new piece by Welsh composer, Rhian Samuel, in a concert celebrating women composers and including a performance of Tailleferre's Piano Concerto with pianist Daniel Grimwood. Nicola LeFanu has contributed the most recent work to Cayenna's on-going commissioning project Water-Culture: Women's Work(s).

As a composer herself, Cayenna has gained international recognition through her compositions for percussion, which have been performed by leading percussionists and in top conservatoires worldwide. The Utari percussion duo, featuring Silk Road percussionist, Haruka Fujii, premiered and recorded her marimba duet, Rumble-Stiltskins in Tokyo (2014) released by ALM Records. She is currently working on a new composition for the Caixa Trio to be premiered in spring 2018. Cayenna serves on the board of trustees for the Zeltsman Marimba Festival and the Tandem Collective, and is a Conducting Associate of the Oxford Conducting Institute.