Willis Koa is a cellist and teacher based in East Lansing. He is a regular member of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and West Michigan Symphony and recently joined the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal. Willis frequently performs with other regional orchestras in West Michigan. He has performed as a part of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Holland Symphony Orchestra, Alma Symphony Orchestra, and Traverse Symphony Orchestra.
As a collaborative musician, Willis was a primary member of the UT Contemporary Music Ensemble, UT Graduate Quartet/Quintet, Western Michigan University’s Birds on a Wire contemporary music ensemble. In addition, he has participated in chamber ensembles at several music festivals including Round Top Festival Institute, Wintergreen Summer Music Academy, Meadowmount School of Music, Masterworks Festival, and Calvin String Summit.
During his studies, Willis has had the opportunity to perform in various masterclasses and coachings with prominent performing artists and professors. He has performed for David Ying, Stephen Balderston, Melissa Kraut, the Doric String Quartet, and more.
An active teacher, Willis has been pursuing training in the Suzuki Method. He is a registered member of the Suzuki Association and plans to continue training for the benefit of his students. Willis teaches a private studio and has also assisted collegiate level and non-major students during his time at UT.
Willis is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Cello Performance at Michigan State University studying cello with Suren Bagratuni. He completed his Master’s in Cello Performance at the University of Tennessee where he served as graduate teaching assistant and holds a BM in Cello Performance from Western Michigan University and was awarded the Herbert Butler Scholarship. His primary teachers were Wesley Baldwin and Bruce Uchimura.