The Lift Concert Series presents performances of new, independent music featuring regional performers, curated by Organ Colossal: Sam Torres and Sophia Subbayya Vastek. The audience is invited to be seated on stage, with the musicians, creating an intimate concert experience. Concerts are designed to last about an hour and, after the performance, concert-goers are encouraged to enjoy the rest of the evening at one of Troy’s many restaurants or breweries.
Described as performing with "passion and profound tenderness” (Second Inversion) and “serene strokes and lyrical beauty” (Brooklyn Rail), pianist and songwriter Sophia Subbayya Vastek moves quietly between musical worlds. For over fifteen years, she has developed an intuitive, dynamic playing style that’s rooted in both improvisational exploration and her classical training. The resulting music is ethereal and cinematic, blossoming into neoclassical/ambient-inspired soundscapes that range from whisper-soft echoes to expressive cascades.
Independent Clauses has described her music as: "Ghostly, delicate, elegant..."
A musician since childhood — growing up with parents who were also pianists — Sophia has always felt deeply connected to the piano. Her music is often directly inspired by her ancestry and generational story-telling, as well as the diverse communities and genres she’s connected to. Sophia also maintains a close working relationship with her husband, audio engineer and multi-instrumentalist Sam Torres, with whom she’s co-produced albums and created electronic/ambient tracks like Ghost in the Square.
Her most recent LP, In Our Softening (2022), produced by Torres, features nine beguiling piano compositions, each track a part of a thoughtfully woven tapestry. The album has been called “a tender and revelatory balm" by editors at I Care If You Listen, “heaven on earth” (Sun 13), and “one of the very best things I've heard all year” by longtime music journalist Steve Smith (Night After Night).
Her debut album, Histories (Innova Recordings, 2017) was produced by Grammy-winning engineer Adam Abeshouse, and described as “a beautiful mosaic of the larger cultural intersections of our world, and how we weave those histories together through music” (Second Inversion). She also released an EP of the complete solo piano works by composer Lili Boulanger (1893-1918), entitled Lili (2020, reissued 2023).
During live performances, Sophia, in collaboration with Torres at the mixing board, creates an experiential space for listening through intentional, carefully crafted sound design. The result is a spacious performance that feels equal parts communal and intimate. Grounded in emotional storytelling and care, her shows tend to unite listeners who enjoy a diverse range of genres.
In 2022, Sophia was recognized as a composer by the New York State Council on the Arts and New York Foundation For the Arts (NYSCA/NYFA) as a Music/Sound Fellow, a highly competitive statewide program focused on the evolution of contemporary art.