Society diversity

Kinetic in Concert: “Musical inspirations and identity: France and Korea”


Friday, February 3, 2023
7:30 p.m. Program
8:30 p.m. Cocktail dinner

Houston-based ensemble Kinetic debuts with the Asia Society Texas with a thought-provoking chamber music concert exploring the intersection of Korean and French musical identity. The program opens on Ravel String Quartet in F major (1903), a staple of string quartet literature that was written in the context of the expansion of the Western imperialist agenda in Asia and, consequently, of European audiences’ fascination and exoticism with the Far East. Over the next century, Asian musicians gained substantial representation and ownership in the classical music world. The remaining pieces on the program feature three Korean-American composers who have developed their own unique identities within this Western genre. Jungyoon Wie and Nicky Sohn are inspired by their Korean heritage, while Count Kim draws its inspiration from the French symbolist poetic and musical language of Ravel’s time.

This concert is presented as part of the Houston Symphony’s Songs of the Earth Festival, a two-week festival highlighting the most unforgettable and immersive experiences in classical music, including moving meditations on life and death and haunting concertos, and exploring conversations between composers from Europe and Europe. Asia on Classical Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

About the artists

An ensemble of 16 string instrumentalists led by artists, Kinetic is committed to amplifying diverse, underrepresented, and newly composed classical music in communities across Houston and beyond, through chamber performance and flexible orchestral ensembles. Since its inception in 2015, Kinetic has grown to prominence as an innovative and dynamic force in the classical music scene, and an important advocate for rarely performed works from the classical repertoire. The ensemble has been described as “Houston’s Indie, Conductorless Orchestra” which has “found its niche in the Houston music scene” (Houston Public Media), and has been praised for its “thoughtful and incisive programming” and “visually arresting.” ..brilliantly executed” shows (Arts+Culture TX).

With grassroots collaboration, the ensemble has partnered with numerous arts 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 Performing Arts Medicine Center, 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 .

Recording by Kinetic of Karim Al-Zand Luctus Profugisthat the ensemble created in 2017, is featured on Nature Studies: New Music by Karim Al-Zand, released by Centaur Records. The recordings of the ensemble of three pieces for string orchestra by Pierre Jalbert on String theory, released in 2021 by Orchid Classics, received critical acclaim. Kinetic’s next album will be released in 2023 on New York label Bright Shiny Things.

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From ballet to opera to traditional Korean orchestra, the composer’s varied talent Nicky Sohn is sought after in the United States, Europe and Asia. Characterized by its rhythmic, jazz-inspired 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 an “elegant wonder” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). As a result, Sohn has enjoyed commissions from the world’s top performing arts institutions, including sold-out performances at the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany, the National Orchestra of Korea, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra and the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Recent highlights include an orchestral premiere by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra supervised by John Adams, orchestral commissions and performances by the National Orchestra Institute and Festival with Marin Alsop, Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, Annapolis Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, National Theater of Korea, the Sarasota Orchestra, and the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Hugh Wolff, plus Kinetic Ensemble commissions and chamber performances as Composer-in-Residence 2022-2023 , violinist Lucia Lin (Boston Symphony), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Moody Center, Carpe Diem String Quartet, Southern Exposure New Music Series and Atlanta Chamber Players. Nicky Sohn is currently pursuing a fully funded Ph.D. at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and holds degrees from The Juilliard School and Mannes College of Music.

Ukrainian-born soprano Yelena Dyachek was the winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2016, receiving accolades from The New York Times saying “…memorably as California soprano Yelena Dyachek, who displayed impressive range, depth and power in ‘Come Scoglio,’ before delivering an emotionally gripping letter scene…”. She graduated from Houston Grand Opera’s prestigious studio program where she created the role of Dominique DeMenil in A little light emergesand appeared as Musetta in BohemianFlora in The traviataand Berta in The barber of Siviglia. Other productions with HGO included norma and Nixon in China. In the summer of 2019, Dyachek made her debut as Marie Antoinette in The ghosts of Versailles at the Glimmerglass Festival and joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago for their productions of The barber of Siviglia and walking dead man. Despite pandemic-related debut cancellations with the Palm Beach Opera, Houston Symphony, and Aspen Music Festival, Dyachek continued to collaborate with local Houston bands including Kinetic Ensemble, Monarch Chamber Players, and Opera in the Park to bring safe music to local communities. This season, Dyachek gave a recital with Musical Bridges Around the World in San Antonio as part of their Schubert Birthday Celebration, collaborated with Houston Symphony and sang Zemfira in Aleko and the title role in Francesca from Rimini with the Boston Odyssey Opera.

Asia Society Texas’ performing arts and culture programs are presented by Syamal and Susmita Poddar. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, the City of Houston through the 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, United Airlines, and through contributions from the Friends of Asia Society, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional programming and exhibitions at Asia Society Texas.

Performing Arts and Culture Presenting Sponsors

Syamal and Susmita Poddar

Official Airline Sponsor

Program Sponsors

Presenting Partners

About Asia Society Texas

Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diversity of perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating Asia’s vibrant diversity, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Covering the fields of arts, business, culture, education and politics, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community – trusting in the power of art, dialogue and ideas to fight prejudice and build a more inclusive society.