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Helen Sung

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Helen Sung

Helen Sung
Pianist-composer Helen Sung
Background information
Origin Houston, Texas, US
Genres Jazz
Instruments Piano
Years active 1997 – present
Labels Concord Records

Helen Sung is an American jazz pianist.


  • Early life 1
  • Later life and career 2
  • Notable 3
  • Discography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Sung is a native of Houston, Texas. Her musical life began with classical piano and violin. She attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts,[1][2] and went on to receive undergraduate and master's degrees in classical piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin. She first heard jazz music during that time and eventually switched her focus. She went on to graduate from Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.[3] Highlights of the two-year program include performing at the Kennedy Center and touring India and Thailand with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.[4]

Later life and career

Now based in New York City, Sung won the 2007 Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition[5] and was a semifinalist in the 1999 Monk Institute Piano Competition. She has five albums to her credit, including a 2011 debut CD on Steeplechase Records: (re)Conception[6] and a 2nd CD (a live recording) on Sunnyside Records: Going Express.[7] Her Sunnyside debut Sungbird After Albeniz was a jazz-classical project;[8] Helenistique (her sophomore release on Fresh Sound Records) was praised by the JazzTimes as "one of the year's most exciting listens".[9] Sung's latest album is her 2014 debut on Concord Records, entitled Anthem for a New Day.[10]

Sung appeared on Marian McPartland's NPR Piano Jazz program,[11] and appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival,[12] the Detroit International Jazz Festival,[13] the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival,[14] Seattle's Earshot Festival,[15] the Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Festival.[16] She has been featured at the Wigan International Jazz Festival,[17] China's Jz Festival,[18] India's "Jus' Jazz" Festival,[19][20] Poland's Kalisz International Jazz Piano Festival,[21] and her NuGenerations project toured southern Africa as a US State Department-Rhythm Road Jazz Ambassador.[22]

She has worked with notable jazz artists including Clark Terry,[23][24] Slide Hampton, Ron Carter,[25] Jon Faddis, Wayne Shorter,[26] T.S.Monk, MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter, and Terri Lyne Carrington (Sung performed on Carrington's Grammy-winning Mosaic Project CD).[27][28]

Sung produced a jazz residency program for under-served students (through a Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation grant),[29] conducts workshops/master-classes, and joined the Berklee College of Music as an Associate Piano Professor in the Fall of 2011.[30] She has completed composition commissions for the West Chester University Poetry Conference,[31] arts organization JazzReach,[32] the artisanal North Coast Brewing Company,[33][34] and was selected as a 2010 NYC Spaces/Con Edison Composer-in-Residence at Flushing Town Hall.[35]


  • 2014 Winner of Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works Grant
  • 2014 Winner of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation USArtists International Grant
  • 2010 NYCSpaces/Con Edison Composer-in-Residence at Flushing Town Hall
  • 2010 Artist Presenter and Panelist at Aspen Ideas Festival
  • 2009 U.S. State Department-Rhythm Road "American Music Abroad" Ensemble
  • 2007 Winner of Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Competition
  • 2006 Winner of Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation residency grant


  • 2014 - "Anthem For A New Day" (Concord)
    Greg Tardy's Hope
  • 2012 - Iris Ornig's No Restrictions
  • 2011 - ReConception (Steeplechase Records)
    Ronnie Cuber's Ronnie
  • 2010 - "Going Express" (Sunnyside Records) CD Preview
  • 2009 - Brother Thelonious Quintet's Brother Thelonious]
    Lonnie Plaxico's Ancestral Devotion
  • 2008 - Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion's Live at the Zinc Bar
  • 2007 - Sungbird (after Albeniz) (Sunnyside Records)
  • 2006 - Helenistique (Fresh Sound New Talent Records)
    Greg Tardy's The Truth
    Metta Quintet's Subway Songs
  • 2005 - Clark Terry & The Young Titans of Jazz Live at Marian's Jazzroom
    Ester Andujar's Celebrating Cole Porter
  • 2004 - PUSH (Fresh Sound New Talent Records)
    Tom McIntosh's With Malice Toward None
  • 2001 - Lonnie Plaxico's Melange
  • ONLINE ONLY - Live At The Blue Note


  1. ^ "Distinguished HISD Alumni." Houston Independent School District.
  2. ^ "Outstanding Alumni." High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
  3. ^ "Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance". Class of 1997. 
  4. ^ "Education-International". 
  5. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff. "2013 Mary Lou Williams Festival". 
  6. ^ Dryden, Ken (March 5, 2011). "(re)Conception". 
  7. ^ Dryden, Ken (September 14, 2010). "Going Express". 
  8. ^ Dryden, Ken (August 28, 2007). "Sungbird After Albeniz". 
  9. ^ Greenlee, Steve (December 2006). "Helen Sung Trio: Helenistique". 
  10. ^ Collar, Matt (January 28, 2014). "Anthem For A New Day". 
  11. ^ McPartland, Marian (August 8, 2006). "NPR Piano Jazz". 
  12. ^ Espeland, Pamela (September 17, 2011). Round Midnight: A Late-Night Conversation With Helen Sung"'". 
  13. ^ Marshall, Matt (September 12, 2011). "Detroit Jazz Festival: Detroit, MI September 2-5, 2011". 
  14. ^ "Aspen Ideas Festival". 2010. 
  15. ^ Kugiya, Hugo (October 24, 2009). "Earshot Jazz Festival: Week two". 
  16. ^ "2013 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival". May 17, 2013. 
  17. ^ "The Helen Sung Quartet". July 12, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Latest From Helen Sung". September 2013. 
  19. ^ "Helen Sung To Perform At Jus' Jazz". Rolling Stone India. November 2, 2012. p. News & Updates. 
  20. ^ "Jus' Jazz 2013 - James & Wes Legacy Band + Helen Sung Trio". November 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ Sung, Helen (November 2009). """Helen Sung at Kalisz Jazz Festival: "H-Town. 
  22. ^ "U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center Launch 2009 Concert Tour of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad".  
  23. ^ Park, Dale (October 9, 2000). "Clark Terry stirs it up at Sprague Hall". Yale Daily News. 
  24. ^ Terry, Clark. "Clark Terry and The Young Titans Of Jazz – Live At Marian’s". 
  25. ^ Adler, David R. (March 2009). "Helen Sung and Ron Carter". 
  26. ^ Ratliff, Ben. "Critic's Notebook; Beside the Bay, Reimagining Jazz". Arts: Critic's Notebook: New York Times. 
  27. ^ Turner, Mark F. (November 14, 2011). "Terri Lyne Carrington: The Mosaic Project (2011)". 
  28. ^ St. Claire, Pat (February 10, 2012). "'"Terri Lyne Carrington on her Grammy-nominated album, 'The Mosaic Project. CNN Radio: CNN. 
  29. ^ "Residency Partnership Program". 2006. 
  30. ^ Sung, Helen. "Berklee College of Music". 
  31. ^ Dix, Katrina (June 15, 2009). "A serious – not solemn – conversation about poetry". Daily Local News. 
  32. ^ "She Said/She Says the History and Status of Women in Jazz". 
  33. ^ Lockwood, Wayne (February 12, 2014). "Pianist Helen Sung's special brew is on tap at the Jazz Standard". New York Daily News. 
  34. ^ Crocker, Ronnie (February 11, 2014). "Donation of jazzy-brew proceeds is music to the ears". Food & Cooking: Houston Chronicle. 
  35. ^ "Roster of Composers-in-Residence". Exploring the Metropolis, Inc. 

External links

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