top of page
Nicky Sohn: "Home" for Violin and String Orchestra (World Premiere)
Performed live by Kinetic Ensemble and guest collaborators in March 2023. Soloist: Mary Grace Johnson Choreographer: Kayla Collymore Composer: Nicky Sohn Dancers: Amanda Monteith, Isabella Mireles, Jessica Luz Figueroa Audio Engineer: Francis Schmidt Videography: Bend Productions
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.
DEER FRIEND (2021) by Nicky Sohn presented by Southern Exposure
Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute; Ari Streisfeld, violin; Claire Bryant, cello; Phillip Bush, piano; Jeff Francis, recording engineer; and Michael Calamas, videographer; Southern Exposure New Music series: J Michael Harley, Artistic Director and David Kirkland Garner, Assistant Director Commissioned by the Southern Exposure New Music Series at the University of South Carolina. This work is partially supported by a Racial Justice and Equity Fund award from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina.
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 - Minty Breeze (Bokyung Byun, guitar; Jennifer Hackbarth, choreography and dance)
Composer: Nicky Sohn, www.nickysohn.com Choreographer: Jennifer Hackbarth Guitarist: Bokyung Byun, https://www.bokyungbyun.com This work was created as a part of the Cloud Collaboration 2021 with Sounding Board Project (https://www.soundingboardfest.com/) This year’s project, Cloud Collaboration, aims to bring artistic minds from all around the world to create multidisciplinary works through virtual collaboration. The extended isolation from the pandemic has made collaborative art making more challenging than ever, but through virtual collaboration, the Sounding Board Project was able to provide a platform where artists can meld their creative ideas and energy together for creation of new works regardless of any distances or barriers between them. The Cloud Collaboration invited a diverse array of four guitarists, four composers, and four choreographers from all around the world. Each group consists of 3 artists from each discipline, and together they will present multi-perspective and multi-cultural forms of expression through music and dance. The Cloud Collaboration will be premiered in August 2021.
Sohn – Whispers on a Sleepless Night (2021)
For violin, flute, and piano Written for Dal Duo "The initial inspiration of the work came from the unique (Korean) genre called "Trot," a type of popular music that is derived from the country's folk music. Recurring themes of this genre are nostalgia, longing, and grief, and often includes crooning in the empty space where a lover used to be... The piece, through its personal and cultural nostalgia, holds gravity in these times. As a Korean composer living in the US, the recent Atlanta shooting was a direct shock to my identity in this country. "Whispers on a Sleepless Night" was my reaction to this horrific incident, tying the distinct sound of Trot and its motifs of grief and parting to a dark time in history." –Nicky Sohn
IN TANDEM: “Lullaby for Those Fast Asleep” by Nicky Sohn
Created by violinist Lucia Lin, “In Tandem” is a non-profit initiative dedicated to bringing new voices to classical music through co-commissions of ten emerging composers with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. “Lullaby for Those Fast Asleep” by Nicky Sohn Gloria Chien - piano Lucia Lin - violin 2/2021
Nicky Sohn - Stuck Song Syndrome (2022)
Composers program notes: "Stuck Song Syndrome" was written for bassist Andres Vela with the generous aid of the presser foundation. Stuck song syndrome, also known as ear-worm, is a common phenomenon in which a catch musical idea refuses to leave one's mind. I have been dealing with a rather sever case of this phenomenon ever since 2019 when i made a simple, silly melody on my toy xylophone. I had been saving it for the perfect moment, and that moment came when Andres approached me for a new piece for violin , bass, and piano. To recreate what had been reverberating inside my head for the last couple of years, i decided to compose a work where the melody continuously reoccurs through a landscape of musical episodes. The original form of the simple melody is introduced by the bass in the first four measures, and continues to transform further , expanding, shortening, made bare, and embellished. Often we try to get away from things that stay with us for great lengths of time. Sometimes, running away from these things can make you even more tangled up. With this piece, i faced it head on and finally gave this ear-worm the spotlight it had begged for. Mostly, though, i was hoping it would be contagious. Violin-Teresa Wang Piano-Charlie Tauber if you'd like the score, reach out directly to email@example.com. :)
Nicky Sohn's "The Last Smile Of Love" performed by Bokyung Byun on an Otto Vowinkel '2a'
Download a FREE pdf of Capricho Árabe arranged by Agustín Barrios here! https://tinyurl.com/y5cm7byv Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/guitarsaloninternational/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guitarsalon Twitter: https://twitter.com/guitarsalon Guitar: Otto Vowinkel '2a' SP/IN (https://www.guitarsalon.com/product/otto-vowinkel-2a-sp-in) Here's Bokyung Byun performing "The Last Smile Of Love" by Nicky Sohn on an Otto Vowinkel '2a' classical guitar made with spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides. Recorded at the Guitar Salon International showroom in Santa Monica, CA. Huge thanks to the folks at Apogee Electronics (ApogeeDigital.com) for the use of their Ensemble interface in these recordings. http://www.guitarsalon.com/ All proceeds from monetization of this video goes to the GSI Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises money to support music education in public schools. Visit our site for more information: https://www.gsifoundation.org/ #friendsofgsi #classicalguitar #guitarsaloninternational #gsi
Nicky Sohn - Waves (2021)
Jerry Hou, conductor Rice Brass Department Rice Stadium, Sunday, March 21, 2020 Video provided by the Moody Center for Arts at Rice University Program notes: Waves was written for the Rice Stadium in the winter of 2020. The initial idea of the work came from the spacial distribution of the ensemble. The work explores different shapes and configurations that form wave-like sounds. The piece contains ten different sections and each section experiments with various patterns, speeds, and dynamic levels.
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)
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.
bottom of page