Marilyn Nonken is one of the most celebrated champions of the modern repertoire of her generation, known for performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression. Upon her 1993 New York debut, she was heralded as "a determined protector of important music" (The New York Times). Recognized as "one of the greatest interpreters of new music" (American Record Guide), she has been named "Best of the Year" by some of the nation's leading critics.
Marilyn Nonken's performances have been presented at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, IRCAM, the Theâtre Bouffe du Nord, the ABC (Australia), Le Poisson Rouge, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection, and the Menil Collection, as well as conservatories and universities around the world. Composers who have written for her include Tristan Murail, Pascal Dusapin, Michael Finnissy, David Rakowski, Jason Eckardt, Liza Lim, Milton Babbitt, Elizabeth Hoffman, and Drew Baker. As a chamber musician, she is the pianist and Artistic Director of Ensemble 21 (New York) and Elision; she also has appeared with the Group for Contemporary Music, MusicNOW (Chicago Symphony), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Speculum Musicae, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
Festival appearances include Résonances and the Festival d'Automne (both, Paris) and When Morty Met John, Making Music, and Works and Process (all, New York), The Festival of New American Music (Sacramento), Musica Nova (Helsinki), Aspects des Musiques d’Aujourd-hui (Caën), Messiaen 2008 (Birmingham, UK), New Music Days (Ostrava), Musikhøst (Odense), Music on the Edge (Pittsburgh), Piano Festival Northwest (Portland), and the William Kapell International Piano Festival and Competition. Highlights of her 2010-2011 season include performances of Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (Santiago), Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories, Tristan Murail's complete piano music (Philadelphia, Vancouver), and Olivier Messiaen's Visions de l’Amen.
She has recorded for New World Records, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Metier, Divine Art, Innova, CRI, BMOP/sound, New Focus, Cairos, Tzadik, and Bridge. Her solo discs include American Spiritual, a CD of works written for her, Morton Feldman: Triadic Memories, and Tristan Murail: The Complete Piano Music. She appears as concerto soloist in David Rakowski's Piano Concerto (under Gil Rose) and Roger Reynolds's The Angel of Death (under Magnus Martensson). Recent chamber releases include music of William Albright, Charles Wuorinen, and Brian Ferneyhough, as well as Messiaen's Visions de l’Amen (with Sarah Rothenberg). Forthcoming recordings include works by emerging Americans Drew Baker and Chris Bailey.
A student of David Burge at the Eastman School, Marilyn Nonken received a PhD degree in musicology from Columbia University. Her writings on music have been published in Tempo, Perspectives of New Music, Contemporary Music Review, Agni, Current Musicology, Ecological Psychology, and the Journal of the Institute for Studies in American Music. She has contributed chapters to Perspectives on French Piano Music and Messiaen Perspectives 2: Techniques, Influence, and Reception, both forthcoming from Ashgate. Currently Director of Piano Studies at New York University's Steinhardt School, Marilyn Nonken is a Steinway Artist.