Driven by a love of narrative and a deep interest in capturing human emotion, the “stirring” (New York Times) music of American composer/pianist Alex Berko (b. 1995) draws from a wide array of influences to create dynamic and expressive art.
Berko’s music has been widely performed throughout the U.S. and abroad by orchestras, choirs, and chamber ensembles. His recent collaborators include the Monterey Symphony, Cape Symphony, Plymouth Philharmonic, Bloomington Symphony, Donald Nally, The Crossing, Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare, NOTUS Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Cathedral Choral Society and the Washington National Cathedral, Del Sol String Quartet, Boston New Music Initiative, and jazz/folk duo Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz.
Most recently, Berko received a 2021 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for his orchestra piece, Among Waves. Another recent project in collaboration with composer Daniel Bayot and the Lebron James Family Foundation landed Berko a regional EMMY ® for his music. His work has also received national recognition from the Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI/ASCAP commission), The American Prize (Choral Music Division), American Choral Directors Association (Brock Memorial Prize), and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Additionally, he has held fellowships or residencies at Big Sky Choral Initiative, RED NOTE New Music Festival, Atlantic Music Festival, Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur, California Summer Music, and NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Institute.
Berko’s Lincoln was recently included on The Crossing’s album, Rising w/ The Crossing released by New Focus Records. The album was met with critical acclaim and was included in The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2020 by the New York Times and NPR’s A Diary Of Classical Albums For A Troubled 2020.
Also an accomplished pianist, Berko was the winner of the inaugural Carl E. Baldassarre Composer/Performer Competition at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The following year, he was invited to be the featured guest composer/performer for the competition. Berko frequently performs his own works and those of his colleagues. He is equally passionate about collaborative piano and has worked extensively with singers and choirs. He was also the pianist for the improv comedy troop HoosOnFirst.
Berko was the recipient of a 2018 Downbeat Award for Best Arrangement. His arrangements have been performed by jazz/folk duo Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz and the Cape Symphony Orchestra, Arabic jazz artist Nai Barghouti and numerous vocal jazz ensembles around the country. His work has also been performed at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference.
Berko is currently pursuing his MM in composition at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music as a Brown Fellow, where he teaches music theory and ear training at the Shepherd School of Music Preparatory Department. Berko holds a BM in composition, an outside concentration in piano, and a certificate in entrepreneurship from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Originally from Cleveland, Berko received extensive training at the Cleveland Institute of Music pre-college division. He is a student of Pierre Jalbert, Karim Al-Zand, David Dzubay, Claude Baker, Aaron Travers, Don Freund, Keith Fitch, Stephen Stanziano (composition) and Jean-Louis Haguenauer, Edmund Battersby, and Sandra Shapiro (piano).
Recent and upcoming projects include an orchestra work for the Cape Symphony and Plymouth Philharmonic, choral works for The Crossing, Conspirare and the Miró Quartet, Stare at the Sun, and Constellation Men’s Ensemble, solo works for guitarists Bokyun Byun and Alexandra Iranfar, and a piano concerto which Berko will premiere with musicians at Rice University in fall of 2021. This summer, Berko will be the Composer in Residence at Luzerne Music Center (NY).
Berko currently resides in Houston with his partner and his puppy, Riley.