Helen Sung

Instrument: Piano

Genre: Jazz

Origin: united states

Territories: europe

Availability: Fall

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Winning a Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation “New Jazz Works” grant enabled pianist/composer Helen Sung to fulfill a long-time wish: to create and record her newly released Sung With Words (2018), a collaborative project with the celebrated poet Dana Gioia, whose poems have been called “resonant with music.” It is Sung's 7th leader release, but her first recording to feature all original music: vocal songs where Gioia’s poems serve as lyrics, as well as instrumental compositions inspired by words.

When asked about her vision to create Sung With Words, she replied:

“I have always had a certain envy of vocalists with their special link to the listener via words. On another note, I felt ‘allergic’ to poetry because I didn’t like feeling unsure of meaning. Dana helped me get past this by his belief that poetry is musical, best read out loud, and that meaning would come through the sound and rhythm of the words. So I thought – why not try to write songs with words? – thus joining these two threads.”

With this album, Sung explores how music and words can connect, elaborating further: “It has been a great experience working with words, building sonic worlds around Dana’s poems that express what his words mean to me,” says Sung. “I found inspiration in music where words, rhythm and sound are interwoven in ways that move me, music of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, A Tribe Called Quest, Me’shell Ndegeocello, etc. I have a great respect for the art of song-writing and wanted to answer the challenge: to present Dana’s words in my own musical language – as an honest distillation of what I hear, and how I hear.”

Sung and Gioia first met at a 2006 White House State Dinner where she was taping for a PBS In Performance at the White House concert. When she applied for the Chamber Music America grant, Gioia immediately came to mind - here was an opportunity to compose new work: songs, with words that she could help craft. For example, one poem is based on a rhythm Dana heard Helen play; another song uses a poem by Gioia built on a phrase Sung encountered in passing conversation (the rhythm of the words stuck with her so she brought the phrase to Gioia). The program consists of ten original compositions: seven vocal features and three instrumental pieces, all of which display a multi-faceted, fascinating collaboration between Sung and Gioia, where music inspires words and words inspire music.

2014 Anthem for a New Day (Concord Jazz)
2011 (Re)Conception (SteepleChase)
2010 Going Express (Sunnyside)
2007 Sungbird (After Albeniz) (Sunnyside)
2006 Helenistique (Fresh Sound)
2004 Push (Fresh Sound)

"What’s striking…is an openness of vision, paired with a looseness of execution. Ms. Sung
sounds both relaxed and searching, and she imparts the same qualities to her crew.”
–The New York Times

"Sung actually leaves the listener wanting more"
Ken Dryden, All Music Guide

"Pianist tackles the standards and writes one herself"
Tom Hull, Village Voice

Date Artist Venue City Country

Bella Concerts

ottakringer str. 132/1
1160 vienna, austria

: +43 1 9974253
: booking/at/bellaconcerts.com

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