Preben Antonsen has enjoyed writing music since he was a small child. Molly Axtmann began teaching him piano when he was 6; a composer herself, she taught him music theory through his own compositions. He later studied piano with James Chip Brimhall and Sharon Mann, and he studied composition with John Adams from 2001 to 2009. He became interested in percussion and worked with Victor Avdienko during eighth grade and now plays piano and percussion in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. The ensemble premiered his first orchestral work in March 2009. During the summers of 2003, 2004 and 2005 he attended the Perlman Music Program in Shelter Island, New York, a choral, strings, piano and chamber music program. He is a 2005 BMI Student Composer Award winner. ASCAP recognized five of his compositions with Morton Gould Young Composer Awards in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2009. NPR’s From the Top featured Preben as a young composer in 2008.
Sarah Cahill commissioned Antonsen to write a piano work for her antiwar project, “A Sweeter Music,” which she performed in Berkeley and New York. He collaborated with other teenage composers and instrumentalists in the Bay Area new music concert series Formerly Known as Classical, which seeks to engage teenage audiences. He attended Aspen Music Festival School in 2006, studying piano with Yoheved Kaplinsky and composition with Sydney Hodkinson. He attended Yellow Barn as a composer in 2007 and 2009. Besides music, Preben likes science, math, tennis, languages, camping, writing poetry and reading. Antonsen was educated at home, at the Crowden School in Berkeley, and at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. He currently attends Yale University, where he studies with Kathryn Alexander.