Selected as one of the "Cool 100" by Houston CityBook Magazine, alongside icons like Simone Biles and Megan Thee Stallion, composer Nicky Sohn stands as a versatile and sought-after talent across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Characterized by her jazz-inspired, rhythmically driven themes, Sohn's work has received international praise for being "undoubtedly the crowd pleaser of the evening, deserving a permanent place in the orchestral repertoire" (YourObserver), being “dynamic and full of vitality” (The Korea Defense Daily), having “colorful orchestration” (NewsBrite), and for its “elegant wonder” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), among many others. As a result, Sohn has enjoyed commissions and performances from the world’s preeminent performing arts institutions, including Stuttgart Ballet, New York Choreographic Institute, National Orchestra of Korea, St. Louis Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, and Aspen Philharmonic.
While Sohn has a lengthy repertoire of solo, chamber, and orchestral work, her current speciality lies within theatrical music, such as ballet and opera. As Sohn herself puts it, “I’m obsessed with the collaborative aspects of it—working with choreographers, for example. Hearing my own work melding with someone else’s imagination is incredibly fulfilling.” This includes a commission from the National Theater of Korea, in which Sohn composed a lengthy work for Korean traditional instrumentation and appeared on national television. After receiving numerous accolades, the complete work continues to be televised on Arte TV’s Korean network.
Recent highlights include an orchestral premiere by the St. Louis Symphony overseen by John Adams, orchestral commissions and performances from National Orchestra Institute and Festival with Marin Alsop, Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, Annapolis Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, National Theater of Korea, Sarasota Orchestra, and the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra under Hugh Wolff, and chamber commissions and performances from the violinist Lucia Lin (Boston Symphony), the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Moody Center, Carpe Diem String Quartet, Southern Exposure New Music Series, and Atlanta Chamber Players.
Sohn recently received fellowships from The DACAMERA Young Artist Program and MUSIQA Houston, UCross Foundation, and the Hambidge Center. Sohn's current projects include a 20-minute-long orchestral work for the Annapolis Symphony, a piano quintet for Dacamera's season opener featuring the Isidore Quartet and pianist Sarah Rothenberg, and a chamber work for the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.
In listening to Nicky Sohn’s music, you may hear influences from jazz greats such as Chet Baker, Bill Evans, and Antônio Carlos Jobim, as well as the living composers Michael Torke, David Del Tredici, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. “Much of their music,” Sohn says, “is characterized not just by major and minor triads at their foundation, but also a very organic way of generating rhythmic patterns—you get a natural sense of forward motion that’s also harmonically compelling.”
Sohn is also one of the co-founders of Sounding Board: The New Music Initiative for Guitarists and Composers along with the world-renowned guitarist Bokyung Byun. The project focuses on promoting collaborative relationships between composers and performers to create new works for guitar, and its inaugural festival in Besançon, France in 2019 has been praised as “extraordinary, in the strict sense of the word,” by La Presse de Gray in France. For the 2020 season, Sounding Board has commissioned 15 composers for their project called "Catharsis" inspired by the Guitar Foundation of America's #Tearsfor2020 movement.
Nicky Sohn is currently pursuing a fully-funded doctoral degree at the The Shepherd School of Music of Rice University and holds a Master of Music Diploma from The Juilliard School. Her early years are marked by a voracious eagerness to learn: Already a student of piano at the age of two, she began seriously studying composition at the age of seven. At fourteen, Sohn completed her high school diploma, and would go on to receive both a Bachelor of Music degree and a Diploma of Piano Performance from the Mannes College of Music. She is grateful to her pedagogues, which include Gabriela Lena Frank, Anthony Brandt, Anna Clyne, Chris Theofanidis, and Richard Danielpour.