Pianist and multidisciplinary artist Sophia Subbayya Vastek, described by Second Inversion as playing with "passion and profound tenderness," maintains an active career as a concert pianist and keyboardist/performer, educator, interdisciplinary collaborator, and event producer. She is committed to the never-ending exploration of the role of music as a force for good, and exploring how mining her own stories can lead to a deeper listening of the stories of others.
As a pianist, performing has taken Sophia to South Africa and Mexico, and around the United States, including at the Kennedy Center, the United States State Department, the Canadian Embassy (DC), Polish Cultural Institute (DC), The Apollo Theatre, and National Sawdust. She has also been presented at The NoiseGate Festival, Queens New Music Festival, Artscape, and Arts Letters & Numbers.
Sophia’s debut album was recently released on innova Recordings with music by Michael Harrison, Donnacha Dennehy, and John Cage. It was produced by multiple Grammy-winning engineer Adam Abeshouse and features tabla player Nitin Mitta, vocalist Megan Schubert, and Michael Harrison on tanpura. Of the album, Second Inversion writes, "The result is both an homage to Vastek’s own individual histories but also a beautiful mosaic of the larger cultural intersections of our world—and how we weave those histories together through music."
Sophia is heavily invested in contemporary classical music and has collaborated closely with many composers in the creation of new works. Most notably, she has collaborated and performed with composer Michael Harrison, whose solo works she recorded on her album “Histories”. She also maintains a very close partnership with David Ibbett, who has written multiple long-form electroacoustic works for her. In addition to performing and commissioning new works, she is committed to programming historical works by under-represented voices, and strives to create holistic programs that showcase these artists from many centuries ago to now. She is also particularly interested in learning about Indian classical music, as she is part Indian, and finding ways to bridge her Western instrument and training with that tradition. The music of Michael Harrison was a jumping off point for that journey, and she has since performed many concerts with renowned tabla players Nitin Mitta and Anirban Roy Chowdhury.
With composer David Ibbett, Sophia is a co-founder of Music of Reality, an interdisciplinary concert series and event production organization that celebrates the beauty of the natural and human worlds. Music of Reality collaborates closely with researchers, scientists, and musicians to present events that explore a topic from multiple angles. These events consist of lectures and musical performances, and often demonstrations, dialogue, and installations. They have collaborated with the NoiseGate Festival, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, New York University, Boston University, MIT, and Brandeis University, and researchers across a broad spectrum of fields. They released an EP this spring consisting of music by David Ibbett, performed by Sophia and David.
Sophia is one half of Tilted Arc, an electroacoustic duo that creates across genres, with electronic sound artist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Torres. Together, they create, perform, and produce electroacoustic music. They also build sound installations and video art. They released their first album, “Ghost in the Square”, this fall.
Sophia received a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University, Bloomington where she studied with Emile Naoumoff, the last pupil of Nadia Boulanger, and a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. She is indebted to her teachers, colleagues, collaborators, and friends who continue to teach her how to ask questions and truly listen.
Sophia goes through life with her partner Sam and their three-legged cat, MagnifiCAT. She loves lemons, ELEPHANTS, rhinos (ask about her experience with a baby rhino!), pretty much all animals actually, popcorn, and questions.
Subbayya is from India. Vastek, by way of Chwastek, is from Poland.