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Jazz Night In America

One Year Later, Pianist Helen Sung Returns To The Stage

When Helen Sung played at Dizzy's Club on March 1, 2020, the pianist never imagined it would be a full year before she returned to the stage. Just ten days later, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Music venues around the world closed doors and all tours were canceled or postponed indefinitely. Like musicians and artists everywhere, Sung turned to arts organizations for support and was fortunate enough to receive grants to continue creating music.

In this concert — filmed at Dizzy's on March 11, 2021 — Helen Sung and her quartet play several pieces born out of the sorrow, loss and anxiety caused by the pandemic. There is no audience in attendance; thus, no applause. But between songs, she says, "We hope to see you soon again, on stage, somewhere in person."

That hope is starting to bear fruit. Sung recently recorded a double album with her quartet. Her collaboration with Miriam King, a dancer and neurorehabilitation researcher, was selected for the New Music USA 2021Creator Development Fund. And recently, Sung was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Learn more about Helen Sung and her background in our radio episode.

Set List

  • "Long Yellow Road" (Toshiko Akiyoshi)
  • "Elegy for the City" (Helen Sung)
  • "Coquette" (Helen Sung)
  • "Time Loops" (Helen Sung)
  • Musicians

    Helen Sung, piano; John Ellis, saxophones and flute; David Wong, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums

    For more episodes, including our weekly radio show, full-length concert films and short video documentaries, head to Jazz Night in America.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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