Violinist Chung Kyung-wha Returns in High Spirits
By Han Sang-hee
Like any other artist traveling around the world for performances, respected violinist Chung Kyung-wha was happy to be back in her home country to meet local fans and see her family.
The 62-year-old violinist will perform for a Korean audience for the first time in five years after a finger injury.
``I don't know how well I will perform, but to play for the Korean public is a miracle. I feel better ― my shoulder and finger are much better now ― so I will do my best,'' she said smiling during a press conference at a hotel in southern Seoul Tuesday.
``One of the biggest reasons why I hurried my return was because I wanted to perform for my mother,'' she added.
For the Seoul performance, which will be on May 4 at the Seoul Arts Center, Chung will be joined by the feted Philharmonia Orchestra from the U.K. led by Russian virtuoso Vladimir Ashkenazy, playing tunes by Beethoven and her personal favorite, Brahms. This is the first time for Chung to perform with the respected pianist and conductor.
``When I injured my finger five years ago, I had to cancel plans to play Brahms' work. He is one of my favorite musicians and I was so disappointed,'' she said.
``I'm fully recovered now and look forward to playing Brahms' (work), but of course, there is nothing I can do about my age,'' she added, laughing.
``When I was young, I focused on the technique, striving to bring a perfect performance. But in the end, I was always dissatisfied. But now, I feel grateful. I may have been able to play perfectly in terms of technique, but now I feel thankful whenever I perform. I think I have grown as an artist. I'm 62-years-old now, so I'm not so sure if I'll be able to give as perfect a performance as I hope. You will have to listen and decide for yourselves whether I have done well or not,'' Chung said.
The orchestra's visit will also be a treat, as it will be its first visit in 15 years. The orchestra last visited Korea in 1995 led by Chung's brother, conductor Chung Myung-whun, at Seoul Arts Center.
Before Chung's performance, prodigy pianist Kim Sun-wook will perform with the orchestra on May 3, offering tunes by Beethoven, Schumann and Rachmaninov.
Chung, who marks the 40th anniversary of her European debut in London this year, has been teaching aspiring musicians at the Juilliard School in New York since 2007, and when asked how it felt to be a teacher, she smiled.
``Teaching is an honor,'' she said. ``It's strange to think that I have become a professor. It's so different to teach and to perform. Teaching needs training, just like performing and I try to share my experiences on stage with students.''
When asked about the future of classical talent here in Korea, Chung's face lit up.
``So much Korean talent is recognized around the world, but Korea still needs to come up with firm and stable foundations to support them. We need to help these students with scholarships and enable them to study without worrying about money. That is what I want to do,'' she said.
``If (aspiring artists) consider performing a job, they will never discover truly good music. You must become a performer,'' the violinist advised.
Born into a musical family, Chung trained at the Juilliard School and has been lauded for her passionate musicality and technique over the years. Working with esteemed conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle, she is one of the most recognized musicians both here and abroad.
``It's always the same for me when I perform. I don't think about the past or the future. I savor the moment and perform as though it is my last. I always give my best and I am looking forward to the program as well,'' Chung said.
Tickets for the performance range from 60,000 won to 250,000 won. For more information, visit www.interpark.co.kr or call (02) 599-5743