Robbie Bui is a contemporary cellist whose playing has been regarded for its intense physicality and fervent energy. Complemented by his additional background in composition, he puts deep consideration into music’s theoretical construction blocks to yield corporeally gripping performances. The crux of his musical work involves bringing the new and the unexpected to the foreground.
As a new-music specialist, Bui has been dedicated dozens of works by living composers in both solo and chamber settings. He has appeared as a soloist in several places including the McGill Schulich School of Music, Koussevitzky Shed, Seiji Ozawa Hall, Jordan Hall, Conrad Prebys Music Center, Mandeville Auditorium, and Coronado Public Library. He was frequently a recurring performer in nec[shivaree], NEC Contemporary Ensemble, and the Tuesday Night New Music series. Between 2018-2021, he was also Tuesday Night New Music’s leading director.
Bui is currently recognized in ensembles such as La Jolla Symphony, Pacific Lyric Association, Ecce Ensemble, Palimpsest Ensemble, and Alinéa Ensemble. Alinéa, of which he is a founding member, is a contemporary music group dedicated to music by living composers and new performance practices. The ensemble has produced notable events, some of which include a portrait concert, a microtonal-themed concert, a residency at Ithaca College, and even a virtual summer festival entitled « Everything But The Kitchen Sink, » which won a nomination for the Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award. Other groups in which he was a collaborator, composer, or mentee include Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble PHACE, JACK Quartet, New England Conservatory Symphony, Perfect 4th String Quartet, Tempest String Quartet, Transient Canvas, Worcester Chamber Music Society, and Phoenix Youth Symphony.
Some merits from his musical career include winning Best Contemporary Performance Prize of the La Jolla Symphony Young Artists Competition, as well as New England Conservatory’s Honors Ensemble Competition 2018, Orchestral Composition Competition 2019, and Contemporary Ensemble Competitions 2020. Additionally, he has been recognized and awarded through organizations such as Tribeca New Music, Collage New Music, Arizona Musicfest, and the American String Teacher Association’s National Orchestra Festival.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree with Honors from the New England Conservatory, where he was the Commencement Address speaker and a Presser Scholar. His primary teachers included composer Stratis Minakakis and cellist Mickey Katz. He then graduated with a Master of Arts in Contemporary Cello performance at University of California San Diego studying with Charles Curtis. Currently, he is a doctoral student at the same institution. In summers, he has attended institutes and festivals fostering both composition and performance disciplines including Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Klangspuren, Etchings Festival, Delian Academy, New Music on the Point, Orford Music Academy Contemporary Workshop, Vienna Summer Music Festival+Ensemble PHACE, Boston Conservatory, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Idyllwild Arts.
Beyond cello and composition, Bui is the Community Engagement Manager of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, implementing programs to improve the accessibility and outreach of music. And beyond music, Bui is a portrait/event photographer, avid language learner, fashion enthusiast, and sometimes hair stylist, and latte artist.