Cayenna Ponchione

Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Cayenna Ponchione is a UK-based conductor committed to environmental activism through the arts and the promotion of gender and ethnic equality in conducting and composition. In addition to her post as Associate Conductor of the Orchestra of St John's, Cayenna is the music director of the GrassRoots Festival Orchestra in New York, and works regularly with student, amateur and professional ensembles in the US and the UK, including the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Southampton Orchestra, and the Kidlington Concert Brass. In 2015 she was selected by Marin Alsop to participate in an exclusive conducting masterclass with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and as a graduate student was twice been selected as a participant in the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra's conducting masterclasses, receiving coaching from Valery Gergiev.

Cayenna received her 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 an international conference 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 regularly commissions and performs new orchestral works including two on-going projects Water-Culture: Women's Work(s) and Sounding 2020: Commissioning Music for the Environment and Humanity both of which will see premieres this coming year.

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.