|Violinist Chung Kyung-wha poses for the press at a Seoul hotel on Monday. (Communique)|
In 1958, young violinist Chung Kyung-wha performed a Mozart concerto with her friends and received rave response from the audience. That was the first time she realized the power of the audience and the energy she can receive from people.
The now 65-year-old virtuoso is reaching out to the audience once again after an eight-year hiatus, a break that was caused by an injury to her left index finger. Chung has been holding her comeback recital, “Beyond Expectation,” in Asia, starting in Japan in June, continuing on to China throughout October before the final recital at Ewha Womans University Kim Young-eui Hall in Seoul on Nov. 12.
She will also perform at Seoul Arts Center on Nov. 8, at Goyang Aramnuri on Nov. 2 and at the Eulsukdo Culture Center in Busan on Nov. 10. Internationally-acclaimed pianist Kevin Kenner will join her in performing Beethoven Sonata No. 5, Grieg Sonata No.3 and Faure Sonata No.1.
“I say it is a miracle that I am able to bounce back to the stage at the age of 65, recovering from injury. I want to express my gratitude to my fans and audience who have wished me well and sent me good energy all the way through,” Chung said at a press conference held at a Seoul hotel on Monday.
“As much as Koreans who have supported me in my every move, the Chinese and Japanese fans have been loyal to me ever since I became the first violinist in 15 years to sign a contract with Decca records in 1970 and won numerous competitions.
“It has been 15 years and 11 years since I have performed on Japanese and Chinese stages, respectively, but I vividly remember what it was like to be in on stage. The Japanese audience is more ‘cool’ and Chinese audience is more aggressive in showing their passion but at the end of the day, they equally give me a great vibe and attention,” she said.
Chung, who admits to having been fiery and relentless in her younger days, said the injury, which could easily have been career-ending for an active musician, has made her a better person and musician.
After the finger injury, she announced her retirement, spent much of her time with her dogs and taught students at the Juilliard. She has taken the reins at the Great Mountains International Music Festival and School since 2011, along with cellist Chung Myung-wha, her older sister, and has performed at several charity concerts.
“I let myself go, and found true freedom after I lost the control of my finger, which is in a way everything to me,” she said.
“When I learned that I could recover, I realized that this was my second chance, and perhaps my last. Since I made an international debut in London at the age of 22, I had never had a chance to look back, always searching for the best technicality and musicianship. But now I can be humble, contemplative, and admit that though I have reached a certain status with my technique, I will never reach a high point in musicality and musicianship,” she said.
In support of her new self, Chung has been learning to play the viola. It has always been her dream to play a Mozart viola quartet ever since she understood the charms of the mid-range sound a viola makes.
“When I opened my ears, my heart I began to love new things,” she said.
“The more you experience, the more you get as an artist. If I walk along with my stubbornness for music and self-conviction, as well as my own character, I will be able to meet new things in every corner in life,” she smiled.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com)