Helkin Sosa ’23 Named 2023 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher
Helkin Sosa ’23 is one of nine UMass Amherst undergraduates to be named Spring 2023 Rising Researchers in recognition of their outstanding research, scholarship and creative activity in a variety of fields. Sosa is a composer, musician, and music producer who released his debut album in 2022.
An Interview with Helkin Sosa ’23
West Hartford, Connecticut
What drew you to this field of study?
I’ve been playing musical instruments since fourth grade, when I first started learning trumpet. I was introduced to Latin music at a very young age, and trumpet is a prominent instrument in this genre. Later, I took up piano in middle school and guitar in high school. My music composition career began my junior year of high school as a member of the Hartt Preparatory Academy at the Hartt School of Music.
Throughout my musical development, I began to fall more and more in love with the community that is created within a musical ensemble and the power music has to generate emotion and thought in the listener.
Please describe how you do your creative activity.
Above all, I would consider myself a composer. While this term typically refers to writers of classical “Western style” music, it can also encompass jazz composers and music creators of other cultures.
More recently, during the pandemic, I began to experiment with music production and the world of electronic music creation. In my music, I like to blend many of the musical styles that I have been trained in. Music production is a great outlet for this kind of writing.
What do you see as the impact—or potential impact—of your work?
I get to share my music with the world! In September 2022, I released my debut album “H.F.S” on all the major streaming platforms. This is something that I couldn’t even imagine as a fourth-grade trumpet player, but here I am!
I hope that my work finds its audience and that people can enjoy my songs as much as I do. I also would like listeners to reflect on our world and society, and hope that my music can spark new conversations and ideas.
How do UMass faculty support your creative activity?
Many of the UMass Music faculty have provided me with the knowledge and experience to create and perform “effective” music. I’m grateful to Jeff Holmes, Sal Macchia, Eric Berlin, Tom Giampietro, and Chris White for their support of my independent musical endeavors.
Chris White and I have been working on a music theory project about the cadential tendencies in Vaudeville music. The proposal is being considered at various theory conferences!
Also, the intro track to my album: "InSaNE" was recently played at the 42nd Annual Jazz Showcase.
What do you find most exciting about your creative activity?
Music is both my job and my hobby, so creating this album has just been an all-around-fun experience! I am so very lucky to get to do what I love every day.
I also love trying new things in my music-making. Throughout the process of creating this album, I learned a lot about the production of recorded/electronic music. It really has opened a massive door for me!
What are you most proud of?
I think the song I am most proud of is “take it easy.” This was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. I am also very proud that I was able, mostly independently, to coordinate many different artists to collaborate on my music. For the most part, this entire project was recorded and mixed at my small but functional home studio in Amherst!
How has your creative activity enhanced your overall educational experience at UMass?
I’ve met and worked with so many different artists both in and out of the Music program at UMass! Through my endeavors in working on the album, I helped create a larger musical community at UMass that will hopefully continue to grow.
What are your plans for the future?
After graduating, I plan to stay in the Amherst area and work at Gerry’s Music Shop. Ultimately, my goal is to attend graduate school for music composition or film scoring. My dream is to write music for film.
Why would you recommend UMass to a friend?
Everyone is so welcoming and cooperative! Whatever it is you are passionate about and want to do in your future, UMass can help you get there!
The social life here is incredible, and there is always something going on around campus and in the Amherst area, especially music-related events. I’ve made so many great friends and I absolutely love my classes, where I feel like the professors really enjoy what they are teaching!