Helen Sung's First Gig-Ready Composition
The first piece that New York pianist
and composer Helen Sung wrote — and considered strong enough to be
performed in public — came to her soon after she graduated from the
Monk Institute program, then at the New England Conservatory in
While Sung was
still a student, the program’s Artistic Director, Ron Carter, “had
us each compose a new piece for whenever he’d be in town to work
with us, which was about every two weeks,” she says. Once on her
own, Sung decided to channel such discipline and lessons learned from
composing for the master into an assignment of her own: Creating a
piece of music that would both challenge her as a composer and
help her grow as a pianist.
“I was working on
the ‘half-diminished ii to dominant V’ progression,
which had been giving me fits,” she says, laughing, “so I
thought, why not write a piece that used that progression so I could
practice it in a musical way?” The result was “The Waiting Game,”
a tune Sung says was also inspired by how Dizzy Gillespie used the
same progression in his piece “Woody ’n’ You.”
album, Anthem for a New Day, is now available from Concord.
Get the latest at helensung.com.