News Release 

Event on jazz and the brain

Award-winning musician to debut compositions inspired by residency with Columbia University neuroscientists

The Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University

On November 18, at 6:30 pm, acclaimed jazz musician Helen Sung will perform a new musical compilation inspired by the past year she has spent working with brain scientists as the inaugural Jazz Artist-in-Residence at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute.

Entitled 'JazzPlasticity,' the music will echo the vibrant atmosphere in which Sung immersed herself at the Institute. In addition to her performance, Sung will be joined in conversation with the New York Times' Claudia Dreifus. At the conclusion of the event, the new 2020 Jazz Artist-in-Residence will be announced.

The Jazz Artist-in-Residency program provides a unique forum in which music and science join forces in an exploration of the mind, the brain and human behavior. It also honors the musical legacy of Harlem where the Institute is based.

Through meetings, performances and workshops with Zuckerman Institute scientists, Sung delved deep into the brain science of listening, learning and decision-making. In turn, the scientists gained a new perspective into the creative process; witnessing in real time the mechanisms that they investigate every day as Sung composed, retooled and refined her pieces.

"During my residency, I've discovered that many areas of neuroscience touch on questions of timing, decision making and deliberation -- concepts most jazz musicians think about as we write music, practice with a band and perform," Sung said. "Learning that these concepts have biological bases has been mind-blowing. I was also elated to see how jazz, with its key elements of rhythm, improvisation, with its own unique language and vocabulary, is an ideal music form to complement studies of the brain."


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