image from Take Three: Karelia Suite, video by Sasha Amaya, 2016
“[Naomi] is a talented artist, versatile musician, and natural communicator" - Daniel Raiskin, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
Naomi Woo is a prominent young Canadian conductor, recognized by CBC (30 Under 30) and Flare Magazine (How I Made It) as a rising star on the Canadian classical music scene, and notable for her work as a socially-engaged artist and educator. As Assistant Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Naomi programmes and conducts educational concerts and is a leader in community engagement. Naomi is also the first Music Director of Sistema Winnipeg, a music programme for social change in the city’s North End. A commitment to using music to imaginatively transform the world runs through all of her work, including her recently-completed PhD thesis, The Practicality of the Impossible.
As an opera conductor and music director, Naomi is remarkable for her collaborative approach and natural command for storytelling and language. She has conducted more than a dozen operas with students and young professionals in US and the UK, and collaboratively created new, genre-bending operatic works with Sasha Amaya and Catherine Kontz (A Certain Sense of Order, Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2017), Sophie Seita (Beethoven Was a Lesbian, Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2020), and Alex Ho/Julia Cheng (dramaturg for UNTOLD, Snape Maltings 2019). In 2018, she was one of only 12 conductors accepted onto the first training course for women conductors at the National Opera Studio, hosted by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Royal Opera House.
Her passion for new work and artistic creation has also led to trainings and residencies at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse, the International Ensemble Modern Academy at Klangspuren Schwaz, Nida Art Colony (Vilnius Academy of the Arts), the Cortona Sessions for New Music, and more. As a pianist, she has been a prizewinner at the Eckhardt-Grammatté Competition for Canadian and Contemporary Music and winner of the Hélène Roberge Prize for Canadian Music. She is an artist with Tangram, an ensemble devoted to celebrating the vitality of Chinese cultures, and creating new music by transnational Chinese creators. In addition to her current position, she has conducted ensembles including the International Ensemble Modern Academy Orchestra, Cambridge New Music Ensemble, and the Yale Symphony Orchestra. As an assistant, she has worked with conductors including Jac Van Steen, Sir Mark Elder, Matias Bamert, Jessica Cottis, and Jane Glover.
Naomi holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She has also studied mathematics, philosophy, and music at Yale College, the Yale School of Music, and Université de Montréal. Her formative training before university took place at the Vancouver Academy of Music. She acknowledges generous support over the years from the Manitoba Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Help Musicians UK, and the BC Arts Council.
Naomi currently lives and works on the ancestral lands of the Anishnaabe, Cree, and Dakota peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra performs at the Centennial Concert Hall on Treaty 1 territory.