German-Austrian composer and conductor Kai Johannes Polzhofer, born in Munich in 1989 graduated with a diploma with high distinction from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig in 2013 (as well as a Bachelor’s of Arts with high distinction in philosophy from the University of Leipzig). He studied with Klaus Lang, Wolfram Schurig, Friedrich Schenker, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf and Gösta Neuwirth. Polzhofer has won several prizes and fellowships, including the Austromechana Composition Prize, the Academy Schloss Solitude, Francis Boott Prize, the Blodgett Prize, and a national scholarship (Deutschlandstipendium), among other awards. In 2010, Polzhofer co-founded forma Leipzig, a group focused on linking contemporary music and literature, for which he remains artistic advisor. Broadcast in Austria and Germany, his music has been performed both in Europe and North America by ensembles such as Jack Quartet Ensemble forma Leipzig, Ensemble Surplus, Ensemble Dal Niente, Parker Quartet, and Ensemble Recherche. He has authored several articles on musicologicy and composition, and publishes regularly in journals like Musik und Ästhetik and New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century. Trained in conducting, trumpet and violin, Polzhofer also studied during high school piano and composition at Hochschule für Musik und Theater München. After graduating from classical grammar school under the Benedictines, he continued his studies in philosophy, music theory and composition at the Universities and Conservatories of Graz (Austria) and Leipzig (Germany). At Harvard University he is pursuing a Doctorate in composition under the guidance of Chaya Czernowin, Hans Tutschku and Steven Kazuo Takasugi. Kai also studies conducting with Federico Cortese, and has been selected as active participant for master classes with Sian Edwards, Neeme Järvi, and Paavo Järvi. He served as Music Director of the Dudley Orchestra (Symphony Orchestra of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard), as well as Assistant Conductor of the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra. He is co-founder of the Du Bois Orchestra at Harvard. Polzhofer’s music is published by Edition Gravis.
Besides his work as artistic advisor for forma Leipzig e.V. Polzhofer currently volunteers as executive consultant for The Diakron Institute for Cross-Cultural Exploration and Interdisciplinary Studies. He also serves as Music Director of the Du Bois Orchestra at Harvard, a group focused on social outreach and advocating for social justice and equity through classical music.