At the age of two-and-a-half, Dina Koston began studying piano and music theory with her mother, who was a professional musician. She continued her diverse musical studies at the American Conservatory of Music, including ear-training, harmony, several styles of counterpoint, orchestration, analysis, and composition. She had private studies with Gavin Williamson in harpsichord, with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Leon Fleisher in piano, and summer courses with Nadia Boulanger and Luciano Berio; and she spent one summer at Darmstadt.
With Leon Fleisher, she co-founded and co-directed The Theater Chamber Players (1968-2003), the first resident chamber ensemble of the Smithsonian Institution, and later, the first resident chamber ensemble of The Kennedy Center. During those years, she concentrated on studying new music and on being a pianist, and she stopped composing, “stopped writing down the music in my head.”
The return to composing arose unbidden on a train trip to a memorial service for a founding member of the Theater Chamber Players. Upon hearing this work, In Memory of Jeannette Walters, Leon Fleisher requested a chamber piece that would include piano left-hand. Both of these pieces were then performed at Tanglewood.
Since returning to composing, Ms. Koston has received commissions from The Library of Congress, The Wolf Trap Foundation, The Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center, and The Cygnus Ensemble. The Cygnus Ensemble, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, presented an entire program of Koston’s music in Zankel Hall, New York City, in December 2005. Leon Fleisher has been playing a solo piano work (2-hands) in his recitals since his Carnegie Hall recital in October 2003, and The Raphael Trio has been playing a work of hers from many seasons. She has written a work for 22 solo winds/brass for Robert Levy and the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble. Solo works have been performed on tour by soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julsson, cellist Susan Salm, and guitarist William Anderson.
In addition to many solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and university-level master classes, Ms. Koston has participated in several Marlboro Festivals and written music for theatrical productions at Café La Mama and the Arena Stage. She has taught at the Peabody Conservatory and at Tanglewood.
Ms. Koston’s last work, Distant Intervals, was written for the Cygnus Ensemble. It is a musical response to Samuel Beckett’s Ohio Impromptu. Distant Intervals was first performed at Ms. Koston’s memorial service at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church on August 31, 2009.