Kinetic in Concert: 'Musical Inspirations and Identity in France and Korea'VIEW EVENT DETAILS
Presented in partnership with Kinetic, Houston Symphony, and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University
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Friday, February 3, 2023
7:30 p.m. Program
8:30 p.m. Drinks Reception
Houston-based ensemble Kinetic makes their Asia Society Texas debut with a thought-provoking chamber music concert exploring the intersection of Korean and French musical identities. The program opens with Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major (1903), a staple of string quartet literature that was written against a backdrop of an expanding Western Imperialist agenda in Asia and, consequently, a European public’s fascination and exoticization of the Far East. Over the course of the following century, Asian musicians have gained substantial representation and ownership in the classical music world. The remaining pieces in the program features three Korean American composers who have developed their own unique identities within this Western genre. Jungyoon Wie and Nicky Sohn draw from their Korean heritage, while Earl Kim finds fresh inspiration from the French symbolist poetic and musical language of Ravel’s time.
This concert is presented as part of Houston Symphony’s Songs of the Earth Festival, a two-week festival highlighting classical music’s most unforgettable and immersive experiences, including soul-stirring meditations on life and death and haunting concertos, and exploring conversations between composers in Europe and Asia in classical music during the 20th and 21st centuries.
About the Artists
An artist-led, artist-curated ensemble of 16 string players, Kinetic is committed to amplifying diverse, under-represented, and newly composed classical music to communities in and beyond Houston, through flexible chamber and orchestral ensemble performances. Since forming in 2015, Kinetic has been gaining momentum as an innovative and dynamic force in the classical music scene, and an important advocate for the rarely- performed works in the classical repertoire. The ensemble has been described as “Houston’s Indie, Conductorless Orchestra” that has “found its niche in Houston’s music scene” (Houston Public Media), and has been praised for its “thoughtful incisive programming” and “visually arresting... brilliantly executed” performances (Arts+Culture TX).
With collaboration at its core, the ensemble has partnered with numerous artistic organizations and institutions, including Moody Center for the Arts, Da Camera of Houston, Asia Society Texas, Musiqa, Windsync, NobleMotion Dance, Houston Contemporary Dance Company, Archway Gallery, Houston Methodist Hospital’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft — and more. A champion of new music, Kinetic has commissioned and premiered over a dozen new works by emerging and established composers of our time, including Karim Al-Zand, Paul Novak, Daniel Temkin, Alexandra T. Bryant, Daniel Knaggs, and Anthony Brandt.
Kinetic’s recording of Karim Al-Zand’s luctus profugis, which the ensemble premiered in 2017, is featured on Studies in Nature: New Music by Karim Al-Zand, released by Centaur Records. The ensemble’s recordings of three string orchestra pieces by Pierre Jalbert on String Theory, released in 2021 by Orchid Classics, has received critical acclaim. Kinetic’s forthcoming full-length album will be released in 2023 on the New York based label, Bright Shiny Things.
More information at kineticensemble.org.
From ballet to opera to Korean traditional-orchestra, the wide-ranging talent of composer Nicky Sohn is sought after across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Characterized by her jazz-inspired, rhythmically driven themes, Sohn’s work has been described as “like John Adams’ ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine’ on steroids” (YourObserver), “dynamic and full of vitality” (The Korea Defense Daily), and having “elegant wonder” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). As a result, Sohn has enjoyed commissions from the world’s preeminent performing arts institutions, including sold-out performances at the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany, The National Orchestra of Korea, Minnesota Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra, and the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra.
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 Kinetic Ensemble as their 2022-2023 composer-in-residence, 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. Nicky Sohn is currently pursuing a fully-funded doctoral degree at the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University and holds degrees from the Juilliard School and Mannes College of Music.
Ukrainian-born soprano Yelena Dyachek was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2016, receiving praise from The New York Times saying “…memorable as the soprano Yelena Dyachek from California, who demonstrated impressive range, depth and power in ‘Come scoglio’, before delivering an emotionally captivating Letter Scene…”. She is a graduate from Houston Grand Opera’s prestigious studio program during which she premiered the role of Dominique DeMenil in Some Light Emerges, and appeared as Musetta in La bohème, Flora in La traviata, and Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Further productions with HGO included Norma and Nixon in China. In the summer of 2019, Dyachek made her debut as Marie Antoinette in Ghosts of Versailles at the Glimmerglass Festival and joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago for their productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia and Dead Man Walking. Despite pandemic related debut cancellations with the Palm Beach Opera, Houston Symphony, and the Aspen Music Festival, Dyachek has continued to collaborate with local Houston groups including Kinetic Ensemble, Monarch Chamber Players, and Opera in the Park to bring music safely to local communities. This season, Dyachek performed a recital with Musical Bridges Around the World in San Antonio as a part of their Schubert Birthday Celebration, collaborated with Houston Symphony, and sang Zemfira in Aleko and the title role in Francesca da Rimini with Boston’s Odyssey Opera.
Performing Arts and Culture programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Syamal and Susmita Poddar. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Endowment, and The Brown Foundation Inc. Generous funding also provided by AARP, The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Clayton Fund, The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, and the Wortham Foundation. Additional support provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and through contributions from the Friends of Asia Society, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional programming and exhibitions to Asia Society Texas.
Performing Arts and Culture Presenting Sponsors
Syamal and Susmita Poddar
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.
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