• “absolutely riveting ...
    One could not imagine a more brilliant performance.”
    The Chicago Tribune
  • “transfixing ... commanding”
    The New Yorker
  • “the opera's blazing, lone star”
    The New York Times
  • “soul baring, courageous performance” —The New York Times
  • “a tour de force”
    The Baltimore Sun

 

Biography

"fearlessness and consummate artistry"

Soprano Ah Young Hong has interpreted a vast array of repertoire, ranging from the music of Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, and Poulenc, to works of Shostakovich, Babbitt, Haas, and Kurtág. Widely recognized for her work in Michael Hersch's monodrama, On the Threshold of WinterThe New York Times praised Ms. Hong’s performance in the world premiere as "the opera's blazing, lone star." In a recent production directed by the soprano, The Chicago Tribune called her "absolutely riveting," and the Chicago Classical Review noted the soprano's "fearless presence, wielding her unamplified, bell-like voice like a weaponized instrument. Hong delivered a tour de force vocal performance in this almost unfathomably difficult music-attacking the dizzying high notes with surprising power, racing through the rapid-fire desperation of agitated sections, and bringing a numbed, toneless sprechstimme and contralto-like darkness to the low tessitura." 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. At the 2020 Wien Modern Festival, Ms. Hong has been engaged to sing the lead role in the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s POPPAEA.

In high demand as a concert and chamber soloist, Ms. Hong has performed with Mahler Chamber Orchestra, FLUX Quartet, Konzerthaus Berlin’s ensemble-in-residence, Ensemble unitedberlin, the acclaimed Netherland-based contemporary music group Ensemble Klang, The Daedalus Quartet, Wiener KammerOrchester, Phoenix Symphony, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Concert Artists of Baltimore, and Tempesta di Mare, amongst others. In summer of 2018, she gave her Ojai Festival debut with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja in György Kurtág’s complete Kafka Fragments. Ms. Hong also appeared as soloist during the 2018 Aldeburgh Music Festival and on the CalPerformances series in Berkeley. Alex Ross from The New Yorker praised her performances as “commanding” and “transfixing.”

Ms. Hong has collaborated with Ensemble Dal Niente in Chicago and the NOVA Chamber Music series in Salt Lake City as both soprano and director in a new production of Michael Hersch's On the Threshold of Winter. This production has also been presented at the Corcoran New Music Festival, Washington DC. In 2019-2020, she will be championing the role once again with Cantata Profana in New York City at Brooklyn’s Irondale. Ms. Hong will also return to Kurtág's Kafka Fragments with violinists Jacob Ashworth at Spectrum NYC, Hirono Oka with Network for New music in Philadelphia, and with Patricia Kopatchinskaja on the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s chamber series. The season also includes a residency at Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music performing with pianists Mark Wait, Jacob Rhodebeck, and violinist Carolyn Huebl. In early 2020, Ms Hong joins forces with Ms. Kopatchinskaja, clarinetist Reto Bieri and Camerata Bern in Switzerland to premiere Michael Hersch's Agatha. She will perform Nørgård's Nova Genitura and Seadrift and Bach's Kantate 82a Ich habe genug with earspace. She concludes the concert season with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 under the baton of Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

A prolific recording artist, 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 is also a featured soloist in Ensemble Klang’s recording of Michael Hersch’s cortex and ankle. Early 2018 saw the commercial release of her debut solo CD on Innova Recordings, the recording featuring Milton Babbitt’s Philomel and Michael Hersch’s a breath upwards. Upcoming recordings include Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments with Patricia Kopatchinskaja on the New Focus label, and a program featuring the music of Georg Friedrich Haas.

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

Download Biography [PDF]
 

“glistening and resilient”

Press


Ah Young Hong: A Breath Upwards CD review
from Opera News (September 2018 — Vol. 83, No. 3)

"Babbitt composed the work for Bethany Beardslee, whose voice is heard on the tape with the synthesized sounds. In this new recording from Innova, soprano Ah Young Hong effectively matches Beardslee’s timbre so the sections where the live and recorded voices have interplay provide the intended echo effect. One set of notes on the piece says that it requires a singer “with perfect pitch, outstanding command of rhythm, and total control of dynamic contrasts.” Hong clearly has all these—and an unfailingly lovely sound to boot. The piece is extraordinarily difficult. (Beardslee’s autobiography is called I Sang the Unsingable.) Hong’s unexpectedly sweet-toned traversal is on par with Beardslee’s fierce original, which is saying a lot. It’s good to be able to revisit this intriguing work, courtesy Hong’s fearlessness and consummate artistry.

Hong also performs A Breath Upwards, a new song cycle for soprano, clarinet, horn and viola by Michael Hersch (b. 1971). ...Even at its most astringent, Hersch’s music always has something compelling and insightful to say. This piece is as vital and original as any of today’s music." —Opera News
Full Article Learn more about "Ah Young Hong: A Breath Upwards"


"portrayed with soul-baring intensity by the fearless soprano Ah Young Hong ... absolutely riveting ... One could not imagine a more brilliant performance."
The Chicago Tribune
Full Article


“… exceptional cognitive command of the music … “ —The Philadelphia Inquirer
Full Article


"... transfixing ... Hong also gave a commanding performance of Kurtág’s 'Kafka Fragments." —The New Yorker
Full Article


"The soprano Ah Young Hong ... delivered the eerie texts ... with expressive intensity. The vocal line unfolded over the jagged, spare and haunting textures of viola, clarinet and horn. Claustrophobic harmonies underpinned with sparse insistence the line: 'So we had to go on the open edge/one at a time.' Wordless interludes illustrated verses by Ezra Pound, a flicker of a chorale evoking the text from his 'Cantos:' “Borne into the tempest, black cloud wrapping their wings.” Clarinet, horn and viola fragments grew increasingly agitated in another of Dante’s texts, culminating in a dense outburst for the soprano’s apocalyptic declamation of 'Now you can understand.' ... Ms. Hong vividly conveyed the contrasting moods of selections from Kurtag’s 'Kafka Fragments' — expressionistic settings of German texts from Kafka’s letters and diaries. She shaded her voice with myriad hues: lovely and clear in 'The Good March in Step' and grittier in the zigzag vocal line of 'Hiding Places' ... Ms. Hong also sang with expressive fervor in Milton Babbitt’s 'Philomel,' a dramatic monologue based on Ovid’s myth of Philomena. Synthesized sounds blended evocatively with a live and recorded soprano in this startling work, the intensity heightened by the surround-sound effect from multiple speakers." —The New York Times
Full Article


“glistening and resilient” —The Washington Post


“… a triumph … tonal gleam filled the hall beautifully” —The Baltimore Sun

Multimedia

Hersch: On the Threshold of Winter
[2015 production trailer]
Directed by James Daniel

Live from the 2018 Ojai Music Festival
GYÖRGY KURTAG: Kafka Fragments - No. 18
Ah Young Hong, soprano
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin

Babbitt: Philomel
Ah Young Hong, soprano
Learn more about the album,
"Ah Young Hong: A Breath Upwards"

Live at the Crane Arts Icebox Project Space
Orlande de Lassus: Susanne un jour
Ah Young Hong, soprano/FLUX Quartet

Concerts

1 February 2019
7:30pm
First Friday Series at St. David's presents
Works by Brahms, Debussy and Berg
Ah Young Hong, soprano
Shirley Yoo, piano
Baltimore, MD
7 April 2019
7:30pm
Spectrum New York presents
Ah Young Hong in Recital

Works of Babbitt, Haas and others
Jacob Rhodebeck, piano
New York, NY
September 2019 Residency at Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music
Works by Kurtág, Haas and Babbitt
Nashville, TN
10 September 2019 Blair School of Music
Works by Haas, Babbitt, Cage, MacMillan, Britten
with Mark Wait and Jacob Rhodebeck
Nashville, TN
12 September 2019 Blair School of Music
Kurtág: Kafka Fragments
with Carolyn Huebl
Nashville, TN
3 December 2019
7:30pm
Spectrum New York presents
Kurtág: Kafka Fragments
with Jacob Ashworth
New York, NY
19 January 2020 Network for New Music
Kurtág: Kafka Fragments
with Hirono Oka
Philadelphia, PA
29 January 2020 Seattle Symphony
Kurtág: Kafka Fragments
with Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Seattle, WA
February 2020 Film Showing
Hersch: On the Threshold of Winter
Bern, Switzerland
February 2020 Recording Project
Kurtág: Kafka Fragments
Hersch: sapped from me broken (World Premiere)
with Patricia Koptachinskaja
Bern, Switzerland
21 February 2020
7:30pm
Camerata Bern
Casino Bern, Grosser Saal
Hersch: Agatha (World Premiere)
Bach: Kantate 21 and 32 (excerpts)
Lassus: Susanne un jour
Bern, Switzerland
23 February 2020
5:00pm
Camerata Bern
Victoria Hall
Hersch: Agatha (World Premiere)
Bach: Kantate 21 and 32 (excerpts)
Lassus: Susanne un jour
Genève, Switzerland
16 April 2020 Cantata Profana
Hersch: On the Threshold of Winter
New York, NY
18 April 2020 Cantata Profana
Hersch: On the Threshold of Winter
New York, NY
2 May 2020 earspace
Nørgård: Nova Genitura and Seadrift
Bach: Kantate 82a Ich habe genug
Raleigh, NC
11-14 June 2020 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Baltimore, MD
 
 

"Hong's superb vocal facility, along with the able instrumental accompaniment, highlights the sheer beauty of the works while drawing the listener into the emotional heart of the music on a grand scale.” —Music Web International

 

“… a triumph … tonal gleam filled the hall beautifully”

 

Contact

 

Publicity Photos

Click on any photo below to download a high resolution copy.
Photo #1, #4 by Mike Maguire.
Photo #2, #3 by Richard Anderson.
Photo #5 by James Matthew Daniel.

 

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Homepage Lighting and Video Design by Maxwell Bowman.
Multimedia, Concerts and Recordings photos by Mike Maguire.
Biography and Contact photos by Richard Anderson.
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