Helen Sung

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Helen Sung
Origin Houston, Texas
Genres Jazz
Instruments Piano
Years active 1997 - Present
Labels Concord Records
Website http://www.helensung.com

Helen Sung is an American jazz pianist.


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. In 1995 she was accepted into the inaugural class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. After graduating in 1997 Sung briefly joined the Boston area jazz scene before moving to New York City, where she currently resides.


"Jazz pianist Helen Sung and her trio took a capacity Fontana Chamber Arts crowd for a ride that patrons won’t soon forget. Sung let listeners into her world: a place of passion, adventure and drama bound by even and odd musical notes and truckloads of rhythm.” –Alex Nixon, Kalamazoo Gazette

A native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of its renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, pianist/composer Sung was an award-winning concert pianist before jazz intervened during her classical study at the University of Texas at Austin. She went on to graduate from the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance: an intensive program accepting only seven students, it was an unprecedented opportunity to study with some of the greatest masters of jazz music. Highlights of the two-year program include performing at the Kennedy Center and touring India and Thailand with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

Now based in New York City, Sung won the 2007 Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition and was a semifinalist in the 1999 Monk Institute Piano Competition. She has five first-rate albums to her credit including a 2011 debut CD on Steeplechase Records: (re)Conception and a “dazzling” 2nd CD (a live recording) on Sunnyside Records: Going Express. Her Sunnyside debut Sungbird After Albeniz was a jazz-classical project hailed as “a real winner” (All About Jazz); Helenistique (her sophomore release on Fresh Sound Records) was praised as “one of the year’s most exciting listens” (JazzTimes). Sung’s latest album is her 2014 debut on Concord Records, entitled Anthem For A New Day.

Sung has appeared on Marian McPartland’s celebrated Piano Jazz program, and with acclaimed debuts at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, Seattle’s Earshot Festival, the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Festival; she is also stepping onto the international stage – she has been featured at such festivals as the Wigan International Jazz Festival, China's Jz Festival, India’s “Jus’ Jazz” Festival, Poland’s Kalisz International Jazz Piano Festival, and her NuGenerations project toured southern Africa as a US State Department-Rhythm Road Jazz Ambassador.

She has worked with such jazz luminaries as Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Ron Carter, Jon Faddis, Wayne Shorter, and MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter. In addition to her own band, Sung can currently be seen with fine ensembles including the Mingus Big Band & Mingus Dynasty, T.S.Monk Band, and Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic Project (Sung also performed on Carrington's Grammy-winning Mosaic Project album).

Sung’s experience at the Monk Institute inspires her to stay involved with music education: she produced a jazz residency program for underserved students (through a Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation grant), conducts workshops/masterclasses, and joined the renowned Berklee College of Music as an Associate Piano Professor in the Fall of 2011. She has completed composition commissions for the West Chester University Poetry Conference, arts organization JazzReach, the artisanal North Coast Brewing Company, and was selected as a 2010 NYC Spaces/Con Edison Composer-in-Residence at Flushing Town Hall.