Humidity Rag (2021) - Nicky Sohn
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Humidity Rag (2021) - Nicky Sohn

Program note- written by James Palmer In 2021, I launched a multi-composer commission project called “What is a Piano Prelude?” As an experiment, each composer involved was asked to compose a “piano prelude” in their own style/vi- sion with the goal of answering the question in the commission’s title. Humidity Rag was Nicky’s response to this question. Marked “Sticky,” this charming piece is essentially a written-out jazz solo for piano that easily matches in substance, originality, and difficulty the similarly-oriented writing of composers like Niko- lai Kapustin. The right hand’s opening motive turns out to be the main theme of the piece; this versa- tile motive, with slight variations, is the backbone of each major section in a loose, small-scale sonata form. At the beginning of Humidity Rag, the main motive is situated in a murky whole-tone sound world that gives the sense of stickiness indicated by the composer. The harmonic fog begins to lift as this section continues; the theme is then presented extrovertedly atop a soulful, repeating I-IV pedal, reminiscent of the harmonic rocking-back-and-forth of twelve-bar blues. A short developmental section ensues, incorporating grand, virtuosic gestures that perhaps re- call the ecstatic writing of Scriabin. We then re-enter the murky, sticky sound world that opened the piece, this time punctuated with short riffs and cadenzas. After landing on a dominant pedal, the mu- sic builds intensely into an impassioned statement of the main motive, marked “Nowhere to escape.” After this emotional climax, the music winds down, aided by the markings “Even stickier than before” and “Sorry ... even stickier!” The main theme is again the backbone for the closing material, a nostal- gic, endearing dénouement to this quirky piece. Humidity Rag comes to a close with an ascending arpeggiated flourish and a spunky, sticky, sforzando chord.
Nicky Sohn - Burning (2021)
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Nicky Sohn - Burning (2021)

Composer: Nicky Sohn (www.nickysohn.com) Violin I - Jacob Schafer Violin II - Nicholas Lindell Viola - Matthew Weathers Cello - Chris Ellis Program note: Inspiration can hardly be predicted nor deliberate. It could be from opening a packet of hot sauce, watching a flame slowly flicker to an ember, saying a forever farewell, missing someone—these were my sources of inspiration for “Burning”, for string quartet. Winter of 2020 was a strange time for me—I am sure for many, 2020 was odd, never turning the way you’d think. ... All the four events I’ve mentioned above somehow to me gave the sensation of burning. To get through the obvious, eating hot sauce and watching a fire is easily connected to burning—your tongue, desert fire. Often I feel as if I’m a person immune to goodbyes, as if I’ve been trained since birth to be a stoic. But when I haven’t primed myself for it, if I have the uncertainty, or rather the certainty, of the goodbye being the last one, there’s nothing like it. The sensation of heartache it feels physical, that tearing and searing feeling. Then missing someone, crying, feeling small in this world, hopelessness, it burns. Works presented at the special exhibition, “Wild Life of Elizabeth Murray and Jessi Reaves”, also have this spark of energy and color that to me felt like burning. My ideas often tend to be scattered and my inspiration may seem chaotic, but the burst of energy and ideas has resulted in a dynamic and lively work. This piece bends several adjectives that resemble a fire, and the process of burning: luminous, flaring, glowing, sparkling. “Burning” cites the changing sensation, from rapture to grief, every sound to deep, unending silence.
Nicky Sohn - If You Love For Beauty - Ken-David Masur, conductor - Robert Fleitz, piano
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Nicky Sohn - If You Love For Beauty - Ken-David Masur, conductor - Robert Fleitz, piano

Nicky Sohn - If You Love For Beauty (2019 World Premiere & Festival Commission) Chelsea Music Festival - June 11, 2019 - St. Peter's Episcopal Church, NYC Thank you for donating: https://www.chelseamusicfestival.org/support If You Love For Beauty (2019 World Premiere & Festival Commission) by Nicky Sohn (b.1992) https://www.nickysohn.com/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf0QRJ2lufdLPr_EEobJkpw Piano | Robert Fleitz Festival Strings Violin | Jocelyn Zhu, Chloe Fedor, Mariella Haubs, Chloé Kiffer, Soo Yeon Kim, Natsumi Tsuboi, Hasse Borup, Ryosuke Suho Viola | Maiko Takimoto, Jeremy Kienbaum, Jesus Rodolfo Cello | Jonathan Butler, Angela Lee, Tatsuki Sasanuma Double Bass | Mariya Andonova, Kaden Henderson Conductor | Ken-David Masur Part of: --Premieres at the Chelsea Music Festival playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWIgLmkq5gpYTyeLbygp0zZeLxlOekL-f --21st Century Music at the Chelsea Music Festival playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWIgLmkq5gpZ3vX812pU6TqByCEHaxxK6 --Female Composers at the Chelsea Music Festival playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWIgLmkq5gpba5zrFONOCOIBJJWic6iSN --Orchestral Music at Chelsea Music Festival playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWIgLmkq5gpbCMhTsIOHH7iG8BYDIHDY3 Chief Audio Engineer: Brett Leonard Video Director: Lauran Jurrius, Polycast Productions Video Editor: Ashley Hassell https://www.chelseamusicfestival.org Follow us! https://linktr.ee/chelseamusicfestival THANK YOU for watching! Please consider contributing to the Festival & its artists: https://www.chelseamusicfestival.org/support Subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the bell icon to turn on notifications! #ContemporaryClassicalMusic #ModernClassical
Toad, toad (2020)
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Toad, toad (2020)

Atlanta Chamber Players, January 17, 2021 Program note: Toad, toad was written from June 1st to June 10th, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and the deep and prolonged isolation that followed gave me the opportunity and space to participate in a special competition called “Rapido!”, a platform where composers are assigned a specific instrumentation, duration and theme for a chamber piece. This year’s required theme was to create a piece that expresses the sea-change the virus brought to everyone’s personal and professional lives. This has been a difficult time for me as it has been for everyone. With the endless and harrowing solitude, I was unable to continue my career as an artist in the way that had been second nature to me. The possibility of reaching my family back in South Korea was entirely out of the question, and the human ties I strongly depended on were largely severed. I was timidly looking down the long barrel of a seemingly endless summer. With a thoroughly unfulfilled longing for home, for a return back to my eternal resting place, the theme for this piece was instantly apparent. The Korean folk song, “Toad, Toad”, despite its simplicity and popularity as a nursery rhyme, struck something within me and painted the feeling of my separation from home. Offering a new house for toad’s old house felt like something I would dream about during my quiet quarantine. Translation: Toad, toad Toad, toad I’ll get you a new house, so give me your old house. Toad, toad bring me some water and I’ll build you a new house. Toad, toad your house is on fire, come on down with a pitchfork. Focusing on the isolation and repetition of my life in quarantine, the piece is structured around 12 measure long phrases. The melody from the folk song is the main source of the piece, and each phrase is treated as a variation from the main theme. The beginning of this decade has already been incredibly unpredictable, and all these unusual events estrange us from life as we had known it. Anger, despair, grief, frustration, and regret to a degree we don’t often see are becoming a daily occurrence. This abrasive world has calloused us in what feels like a single moment. Nevertheless, like toad I look to build my home again, clearing the debris and wreckage and finding a new place to rest.
Nicky Sohn -"Chesterton's Garden"
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Nicky Sohn -"Chesterton's Garden"

Nicky Sohn- "Chesterton's Garden" (Korean Premiere -Live Performance) Cello, Antonio Hallongren Piano, Sophy HY Chung *From ballet to opera to Korean traditional-orchestra, the wide-ranging talent of composer Nicky Sohn is heard across the US, Europe, and Asia. Characterized by her jazz-inspired, rhythmically driven themes, Sohn has enjoyed commissions and performances from the world’s preeminent performing arts institutions, including Stuttgart Ballet, National Orchestra of Korea, Minnesota Orchestra, and New York City Ballet. She recently received a commission from the Orchestra of St. Luke’s for a new orchestral work. *In listening to Korean composer 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.” "Chesterton's Garden" was the only piece by a Korean composer featured in the program of the concert. ・ "SOPHY'S SONATENABEND (III)" with Swedish Classical Music ・ Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 3 pm ・ Kumho Art Hall Yonsei (금호아트홀 연세), Seoul, Korea [Sophy's Sonatenabend (III) featuring Swedish Classical Music with Swedish Cellist Antonio Hallongren] was part of the official celebrating event of the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Sweden and the Republic of Korea. Thank you very much. Sophy & Company presents