Described as a “self-assured voice” (Barczablog) with a “masterful control over his idiom” (Classical Music Sentinel), Kevin Lau has established himself as one of Canada’s leading young composers. Awarded the 2017 Victor Martyn Lynn-Staunton Award by the Canada Council for Outstanding Achievement, Kevin’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles across North America, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Niagara Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Tampa Bay Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Made in Canada, Octagon, Piano Six, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, TorQ, and the Houston-based River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. Recent collaborators on new works include violinist Jonathan Crow, clarinetist Yao Guang Zhai, cellist Rachel Mercer, violinist Scott St. John, erhu soloist Andy Lin, oboist Charles Hamann, and oboist Caitlin Broms-Jacobs. In 2021 he will serve as Composer in Residence for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
In 2016 Kevin composed the score for the National Ballet of Canada’s original full-length ballet Le Petit Prince, featuring choreography by NBOC Principal Dancer and Choreographic Associate Guillaume Cote. His second ballet score, Dark Angels, was commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra for its Encount3rs project in 2017, and was described as riveting (Ottawa Citizen) and extraordinarily accomplished (Artsfile). His most recent large-scale work, an opera-film hybrid (Bound) commissioned by Against the Grain Theatre and recorded by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, was hailed by the Globe and Mail as “a brilliant creation.”
Kevin’s discography includes two JUNO award-winning albums: “Detach” (Redshift) featuring harpist Angela Schwarzkopf, and “Mosaique” featuring Ensemble Made in Canada. Other albums include “Solo Seven” (ATMA Classique) featuring violinist Marc Djokic, which won Best Album at the 2020 East Coast Music Awards; the JUNO-nominated “Spin Cycle” (Centrediscs, featuring the Afiara Quartet and DJ Skratch Bastid); “Encount3rs” (Analekta) featuring NACO; “The Sounds of Our Time” (Naxos) featuring cellist Rachel Mercer, and Premieres (Cambria Records) featuring violinist Conrad Chow.
In addition to composing concert music, Kevin is also active as a film composer, arranger, and pianist. He has written the scores to over a dozen films, including Ben Shirinian’s Lulu (which won Best International Short Film at the 2020 Milan International Film Festival) and Charles Officer’s acclaimed feature documentary Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018), and has created arrangements for artists such as singer-songwriters Sarah Slean, Dan Mangan, and Suzie McNeil; composer Christos Hatzis; and groups such as the Art of Time Ensemble. He has performed many of his own works and collaborates frequently with artists such as Scott St. John (violin), Lynn Kuo (violin), and Victor Cheng (piano).
Born in Hong Kong, Kevin moved to Toronto at the age of 7. In 2012, he received his doctorate in music composition from the University of Toronto under the supervision of Christos Hatzis and has guest-lectured at UofT for the past six years. He served as Composer in Residence for the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra (2010-12), the Banff Centre (2012), and was artistic director of the Sneak Peek Orchestra (with conductor and co-founder Victor Cheng) until 2014. He was the youngest composer to be appointed RBC Affiliate Composer for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (2012-15), and was composer in residence of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra from 2018-19.
Upcoming projects include The Spirit Horse Returns, an orchestral children’s concert about the origins of the Ojibwe Horse for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (featuring Anishinaabe storyteller Jodi Contin and Metis-Ojibwe artist Rhonda Snow); and Kimiko’s Pearl, a multi-disciplinary collaboration about the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII, featuring chamber ensemble, sound design, and dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.