Upon her 1993 recital debut, Marilyn Nonken was heralded as "a determined protector of important music" (New York Times). Since then, she has been recognized as "one of the greatest interpreters of new music" (American Record Guide). Writes Fanfare: “Her voicings are exquisite, her pedaling throughout is a model to be studied, and, when necessary, her virtuosity is equaled only by the insight and passion with which every piece is imbued.” (2015) Since 2006, she has been Director of Piano Studies at NYU's Steinhardt School, where she is currently Associate Professor.
Her performances have been presented at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, Neue Galerie, (le) Poisson Rouge, and Roulette (New York), IRCAM, Reid Hall, and the Théâtre Bouffe du Nord (Paris), the ABC (Melbourne), Logos Foundation (Ghent), Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano (Santiago), Chicago Cultural Center and Symphony Center, Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), Phillips Collection (Washington DC), Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel (Houston), and conservatories and universities around the world. Festival appearances include Résonances and the Festival d'Automne (Paris), When Morty Met John, Making Music, Works and Process, and Composers Now (New York), American Sublime (Philadelphia), The Festival of New American Music (Sacramento), Musica Nova (Helsinki), Aspects des Musiques d'Aujourd-hui (Caen), Rencontres Musicales de Jaugette, ATEMPO (Caracas), New Music Days (Ostrava), Musikhøst (Odense), Music on the Edge (Pittsburgh), Piano Festival Northwest (Portland), NUNC! (Chicago), Unruly Music (Milwaukee), and the William Kapell International Piano Festival and Competition. Highlights of recent seasons include performances of Hugues Dufourt's Erlkönig, Claude Vivier's Shiraz, and Tristan Murail's complete piano music, as well as performances of Gérard Grisey's Vortex temporum with Sound Icon. Composers who have written for her include Milton Babbitt, Richard Carrick, Victoria Cheah, Jason Eckardt, Michael Finnissy, Michael Kuehn, Liza Lim, Tristan Murail, Christopher Trapani, and Nina C. Young. In 2017-2018, she will premiere works by Michael Byron, Akemi Naito, and Gene Coleman. Her season is rich with collaboration, including Charles Wuorinen’s Mission of Virgil (with Stephen Beck, piano), Morton Feldman’s Patterns in Chromatic Field (with Stephen Marotto, cello), Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, in a rarely performed trio arrangement by Eduard Steuermann (with Rolf Schulte, violin, and Coleman Itzkoff, cello), and Messiaen's Vingt regards sur l'infant Jesus (with pianists Anthony de Mare, Take Kigawa, Margaret Kampmeier, and Blair McMillan). A champion of emerging and lesser-known composers, she is collaborating on new works with Joshua Hey, Ellen Fishman-Johnson, and Ingrid Arauco, in connection with the American Composers Forum.
A student of David Burge at the Eastman School, Marilyn Nonken received a Ph.D. in musicology from Columbia University. Her monograph The Spectral Piano (Cambridge University Press, 2015) has been received as “a screaming success …. Few books can boast as much, and it is gratifying to encounter an international concert performer who can make so engaging a discourse around her core repertoire." (Bob Gilmore, Tempo). She contributed chapters to Perspectives on the Performance of French Piano Music and Messiaen Perspectives; guest edited the issue of Contemporary Music Review “Performers on Performance,” and contributed articles to the Journal of the Institute for Studies in American Music, Journal of Hand Therapy, Perspectives of New Music, Current Musicology, Ecological Psychology, and Music and Medicine. Her chapter on Hugues Dufourt will appear in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music.
Marilyn Nonken has recorded for New World Records, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Metier, Divine Art, Innova, CRI, BMOP Sound, New Focus, Kairos, Tzadik, and Bridge. Director of Piano Studies and Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at New York University's Steinhardt School, she is closely involved with Composers Now and the Fromm Music Foundation. Marilyn Nonken is a Steinway Artist.