The Scene


Ah Young Hong

Ah Young Hong
Richard Anderson

Renowned for her artistic versatility, soprano Ah Young Hong has interpreted a vast array of repertoire, ranging from the music of Bach and Monteverdi to the songs of Poulenc and Shostakovich to the works of some of the 21st century’s most prominent composers.

During the 2017-18 season, Ms. Hong will reprise the principal role in Hersch’s On the Threshold of Winter in two new productions in Chicago and Salt Lake City, as well as a returning production at the National Sawdust in New York. Ms. Hong will appear on two new recordings: first, in a recording Hersch’s cortex and ankle with Ensemble Klang (Ensemble Klang records; Oct 2017); and second, in a recording of a breath upwards, a song-cycle by Mr. Hersch scored for soprano, horn, clarinet, and viola (Innova Records). In recital, Ms. Hong appeared in a two-concert residency at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where she gave the world premiere of Hersch’s rake forth the embers with pianist Mark Wait and Orlando de Lassus’ Suzanne un jour, in arrangement by Michael Hersch, alongside Mr. Wait, violinist Carolyn Huebl and cellist Felix Wang. Ms. Hong will conclude the season with performances of Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments with Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja at the 2018 Ojai Festival, in Berkeley, CA, and Aldeburgh, UK.

In 2014, Ms. Hong stunned audiences in the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s monodrama, On the Threshold of Winter, at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Fishman Space with the NUNC Ensemble led by artistic director Miranda Cuckson and conductor Tito Muñoz. The New York Times praised Ms. Hong’s “courageous, soul-baring performance” and lauded her role as the opera’s “lone, blazing star.” The New Criterion added, “Hong delivered a tour de force … [she] performed intelligently, bravely, and searingly.”

Other operatic performances by Ms. Hong include the title role in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Morgana in Handel’s Alcina, Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Fortuna and Minerva in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and Asteria in Handel’s Tamerlano. She has also appeared with Opera Lafayette in Rebel and Francoeur’s Zélindor, roi des Sylphes at the Rose Theater in Lincoln Center and as La Musique in Charpentier’s Les Arts Florissants at the Kennedy Center. As Poppea, Ms. Hong was deemed “a triumph” whose “tonal gleam filled the hall beautifully” (The Baltimore Sun).

In high demand as a concert soloist, Ms. Hong has performed with The Phoenix Symphony, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Wiener KammerOrchester, and Tempesta di Mare, amongst others. In 2015, under the auspices of Philadelphia’s Network for New Music, she gave the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s a breath upwards. She also returned to Hersch’s On the Threshold of Winter with new productions in Baltimore and Nashville. Writing in The Baltimore Sun, critic Tim Smith noted that Ms. Hong, “delivered a tour de force …She often produced a kind of disembodied sound … the tone filed down to a pure, delicate stream of sound. There was plenty of force as well, a force that seemed to spring from the most naked and raw of feelings. The soprano’s uncanny vocalism was matched by remarkable acting skills.”

Other performances in 2015-2016 included Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor with Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia; Poulenc’s Gloria with the Phoenix and Charleston Symphony Orchestras. In April, Ms. Hong returned to Philadelphia to perform on Network for New Music’s final season concert in Milton Babbitt’s daunting Philomel. The following month in London, alongside hornist Michael Atkinson, she gave the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s a tower in air during a memorial concert for British poet Christopher Middleton. In June, Ms. Hong appeared on New York City’s highly regarded Lex54 concert series in a recital program featuring works by Kurtág, Babbitt, and Hersch. Upcoming engagements during the 2016-2017 concert season include world and European premieres with Ensemble Klang in Holland and ensemble unitedberlin in Germany.

Ms. Hong recorded the American premiere of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn, BWV 1127, for National Public Radio’s Performance Today. Other recordings include the world premiere of Rebel and Francoeur’s Zélindor, roi des Sylphes (Naxos), Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (Peter Lee Music), and Sentirete una Canzonetta with Harmonious Blacksmith.

Ms. Hong currently serves on the voice department as chair and faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University.

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