Artist Profile: Korean Classical Bassist Mikyung Sung
Aspiring bass players have a plethora of professional heroes to follow, from jazz greats, Avishai Cohen and Charnett Moffett to the great bass “trailblazer,” Gary Karr. Today, we’d like to introduce you to the young, female bass phenom, Mikyung Sung (sometimes spelled Soung).
From Korea to the World (and from cello to bass)
Mikyung was born in Korea on September 1, 1993. At only 26 years old, she is certainly a rising star in the classical bass universe. While she started out playing piano and cello, the gifted musician decided to play the string bass at age 10, and that’s where Mikyung’s musical heart has lived ever since.
Her talent is the product of a musical gene pool, including her mother, orchestral pianist Inja Choi, and her father, orchestral bassist, Youngseog Sung. Even her older brother, Minje, is an award-winning bass player known around the world, and Mikyung and Minje have played multiple duets together. Here they are playing the first movement of Botisini’s Gran Duetto No1:
Talent Forms a Foundation but Hard Work Moulds the Career
One of the reasons we love to do artist spotlights is because while some of them have raw talent and music-centric genetics in common, all of them share a common thread: hard work.
There isn’t a single professional virtuoso on the planet who reclines by day in front of their phone screen and then rises to play great concertos by night. No matter how inherently gifted one is from the start, a tremendous amount of hard work and perseverance is required to shine like a star. Mikyung is a bright example of that.
It starts with a great music school
Her formal music education began at a private, college-prep academy, Sunhwa Arts School, after which she received her bachelor of arts as a gifted student from the Korea National University of Arts. Along the way, Mikyung was winning first prize awards at competitions right and left, including the Baroque String Ensemble, the Music Education Journal Competition, and the J. M. Sperger Competition for Double Bass in Germany (she actually won three different first-place prizes there).
Mikyung decided to leave Korea to further her music education and training. She chose to come to the United States, studying with Peter Lloyd at the Conservatory of Music of the Colburn School in Los Angeles. While there, she also took masterclasses led by many of the string musicians we’ve featured in our artist profiles, like the bassist Rinat Ibragimov.
Continues with public solo exposure
Competitions are a wonderful place for young, aspiring musicians to gain public exposure, and so are solo concerts and orchestra features. Mikyung’s first, professional solo debut was with the Guri Philharmonic in Korea at the tender age of 12. Since then, her roster of solo performances are abundant and include performances with numerous orchestras, music festivals, and chamber orchestra features around the world.
And, personal style and sociability is always a bonus
It can’t be denied that, in addition to talent, Mikyung is also full of grace, quiet charm, and knows how to rock social media networks. She’s known for posting impromptu videos, which are particularly compelling because they provide viewers with intimate, behind-the-scenes footage. A particular favorite of ours is this one, where Mikyung plays Hans Fryba's Suite in the Olden Style.
We appreciate seeing her play barefoot, which accentuates the natural body movement that naturally arises when a musician is relaxed and paying attention to the ergonomics of healthy playing posture. That's so important when playing an instrument that is larger than you!
You can visit Mikyung’s Facebook page to continue following a very talented woman who many are calling, “...the future of the double bass,” and to discover her concerts near you.