Mills Music Scholar to Compose Works for World-Renowned Kronos Quartet

Oakland, CA—March 02, 2017

The world-renowned Kronos Quartet has selected Mills Music Department scholar in residence Soo Yeon Lyuh as one of 10 emerging musicians to compose new works that will be played and recorded in concerts around the world.

Lyuh, who plays the haegeum, a Korean fiddle with strings of twisted silk, joined Mills as a scholar and performer in residence in January. As a commissioned composer for Kronos Quartet’s Fifty for the Future project, Lyuh will receive recordings of the music and videos, and participate in composer interviews that will be available on the Internet free to the public. The project is now in its third year.

While at Mills, Lyuh will give guest lectures, enroll in music classes, and give performances. Before she was introduced to Kronos founder David Harrington by Mills Music Department Ensemble Director William Winant, Lyuh said her musical repertoire focused almost entirely on traditional Korean folk songs. With encouragement from Harrington, however, she is now composing original improvisational music, a first for her, and Mills is the perfect place to cultivate that part of her artistic vision.

“I’m really happy because Mills is so famous for improvisation, composition and electronic music, and I am interested in all three,” Lyuh said. “This is all new ground for me.”  

The sound of the haegeum has been described as melancholic, and some say the instrument produces sounds close to that of a person weeping. Lyuh said in Korea the instrument was ignored by serious musicians for many years and played mostly by street musicians who used it to mimic animal sounds, but it has recently become more popular.