Canadian musician Dr. Naomi Woo is a conductor, pianist, and musicologist who became the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's Assistant Conductor in 2019. She brings a wealth of experience and creativity to the Desautels Faculty of Music as the Music Director and Conductor of the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra.

In the faculty


Performance highlights

Dr. Woo joined the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Conductor in the 2019-2020 season. She recently held the position of Conducting Scholar for the Cambridge University Orchestra in 2017-2018, assisting conductors Jac Van Steen and Sir Mark Elder, and conducting the orchestra in a week-long tour to Tuscany. She has also conducted ensembles including the Clare College Music Society, the Berkeley College Orchestra, and the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and has been an invited conductor for the Cambridge Brahms Festival and the Cambridge Female Composers Festival.

Dr. Woo is a conducting fellow at the International Ensemble Modern Academy at Klangspuren Schwaz, and was recently invited to conduct the Cambridge New Music Ensemble at Stapleford Granary as part of the Living Notes series, hosted by Donald MacLeod. In March 2018, she conducted the UK premiere of Kaija Saariaho's Lumière et Pesanteur with the Cambridge University Sinfonia, and she has commissioned and conducted the world premiere of orchestral works by Emily Cooley, Joy Lisney, Stephen Feigenbaum, and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and staged vocal works by Susie Self (Spirit Wagon, 2014) and David Leigh (The Binding of Isaac, 2010).  She is also a member of Tangram, an ensemble devoted to curating and performing new music of the Chinese diaspora.

As an opera conductor, Dr. Woo has conducted productions of Holst's Savitri (ADC Theatre), Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Actéon (Clare College Music Society), Monteverdi's Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Thomas Pasatieri's Signor Deluso (Opera Theatre of Yale College), Mozart's Idomeneo (Trinity College Music Society) and Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte (Opera Theatre of Yale College). She was recently one of only 12 conductors accepted onto a training course at the National Opera Studio for women conductors, hosted by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Royal Opera House.

Outside of conducting, Dr. Woo has an active career as a pianist, spanning opera coaching, collaborative piano, and solo performance. She recently performed Carnival of the Animals alongside Tom Poster (October 2017) with the Cambridge University Orchestra, and has also performed as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Northwest (Seattle). Her performance of Prokofiev’s First Piano Sonata at Carnegie Hall in 2011 was praised as an “elegant performance” in the New York Times.

Academic work

Dr. Woo has been a volunteer with Sing Inside, a UK-based organisation delivering choral workshops in prisons around the country. While at Cambridge, she was an active educator, from teaching courses and supervising undergraduate dissertations, to delivering an all-ages workshop at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

She has collaboratively created musical performance work with Catherine Kontz and Sasha Amaya (A Certain Sense of Order) and Sophie Seita (Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Reveille Dans la Brûme) and participated in residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Nida Arts Colony (Lithuania), and the Darmstadt International Summer Courses (Germany).

Dr. Woo has written a number of academic articles, and has been invited to present at many academic conferences.


  • “Perforating the Subject: The Player Piano Rolls of Conlon Nancarrow”, Material Cultures of Musical Notation (forthcoming)
  • “Touch”, The Routledge Companion to Performance Philosophy (2020)
  • “Musical Gatherings”, The Site Magazine


Conference Presentations

  • ‘From Vampyr and Reveille dans la Brume: a re-enactment lecture on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’, Performance Philosophy: Between Institution and Intoxication, Amsterdam (2019)
  • ‘Genres of Pedagogy: on Nicole Lizée’s Hitchcock Études’, International Conference on Mixed Music Pedagogy, McGill University and Université de Montréal (2018)
  • ‘The Embodiment of Genre’, International Chopinological Conference, The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Warsaw (2018)
  • ‘The Body in Pain at the Piano: Where Form Meets Failure in Ligeti’s Etudes pour piano’, Performance Studies Network Conference, Norwegian Academy of Music (2018)
  • ‘The Practice of Failure in Ligeti’s Touches bloquées’, Dislocations: Reassessing Ligeti’s Many Worlds in the 21st Century, University of Chicago (2018)
  • ‘Perforating the subject: The Player Piano Rolls of Conlon Nancarrow’, Material Cultures of Musical Notation, Utrecht University (2018)
  • ‘The Role of Performance in the Musical Philosophy of Ernst Bloch’, Music History and Historical Materialism, Ernst Bloch Centre for German Thought (2018)
  • Invited Panelist on John Cage, Music & Philosophy Study Group Conference, King’s College London (2017)
  • ‘The Poetics of Touch’, Performance Philosophy, Academy of Sciences and Performing Arts, Prague (2017)
  • ‘Spectra of Marx: The Temporality of Revolution in the Music of Gérard Grisey’, Making Time in Music, Oxford University (2016)
  • ‘...At The Limit: An Etude in Possible Impossibility’, Performing Knowledge, Emmanuel College (2016)
  • ‘Difficulty in Musical Performance’, Performance Philosophy Conference, University of Chicago (2015)


Ongoing research and creative works

Dr. Woo is also passionate about education and outreach. She is the first Music Director of Sistema Winnipeg, a program offering daily musical tuition to children with the fewest resources at no cost to their families, and conducts the Great West Life Kids Concert Series with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.