Tristan Xavier Köster (b. 1993) is a Los Angeles born composer currently living in Hamburg, Germany. Working with ensembles and musicians in predominantly acoustic settings, Tristan is inspired by the abstract emotive capabilities of music and its ability to be radically interpreted by performers and listeners alike. Searching to exhibit a new “colloquial” sound in the contemporary classical medium, Tristan thinks of himself as a musician constantly improvising and searching for an unheard, yet intuitive, way to approach an instrument or ensemble.
Since moving to Germany in May 2015, Tristan has begun establishing an international presence working as a freelance composer. Collaborating with renowned musicians in North America, Germany, France, Italy, and China, Tristan has had performances in a variety of diverse locations ranging from historical venues such as the Hamburg Laeiszhalle and the Shanghai Philharmonic Hall, to more non-traditional venues like the Villa Aurora (Lion Feuchtwanger’s former home), Hamburg’s Gängeviertel (Brahms’ Birthplace), and the living room of Los Angeles Artist Mark Dutcher. Tristan has written for and been commissioned by various ensembles and festivals all over the world, including the Shanghai Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, members of the LA Chamber Orchestra, Trio Catch, the Varied Trio, the Mirror Strings Ensemble, and the Soundscape Performance/Composition Exchange. His music has also been featured by Aeon Ensemble’s UN Sustainable Arts Initiative at NYU, broadcasted on 90.7 KPFK’s “Native Sounds,” and recognized internationally by the Tonali 2017 Festival. Tristan’s composition, “The Empty City Stratagem” for tenor and large orchestra, has also been awarded the William Schuman Prize by the BMI foundation as 2016’s “most outstanding score”.
Upcoming projects include a portrait concert at Hamburg’s Rudolf Steiner Saal in April 2018, a performance at the Rarities of Piano Music Festival in Husum on May 25th, and a work for the 2018 Hamburg Non-piano/Toy Piano festival
Currently studying under Xiaoyong Chen, Tristan is earning his Master’s Degree with an emphasis in orchestral composition at the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater. Following private study under composer AJ McCaffrey, Tristan completed his BM in composition, summa cum laude, at the USC Thornton School of Music, naming Frank Ticheli, Stephen Hartke, and Donald Crockett as his most significant former mentors. Tristan has also been a visiting composer at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music under the supervision of Ye Gouhui, where he participated in the 2018 “Serialism in China” Theory Congress, recorded and studied the folk music of China’s Guangxi Provence, and participated in master classes at the 2015/2017 Shanghai New Music Weeks. He has also participated in various master classes and colloquiums with composers Tristan Murial, Brian Hulse, Valerio Sannicandro, Dan Visconti, and others in various festivals around the world. He is married to Katie, lives in Eimsbüttel, and has two cats named “Olive” Messiaen and “Sophie” Gubaidulina.
Photo Credits: Axel Koester Photography, 2012, 2015.