Violinist Clara-Jumi Kang displays wide-ranging virtuosity in Pyeongchang

By Shim Woo-hyun
  • Published : Jul 26, 2018 - 18:02
  • Updated : Dec 25, 2018 - 10:57

PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- The 2018 Pyeongchang Music Festival is a great chance to hear versatile violinist Clara-Jumi Kang.

She will appear as a chamber music member on one occasion, as a concertmaster of an orchestra on another day and then -- of course -- as a soloist.

She might have been tired from the previous night’s performance, but she appeared to be in high spirits while talking about music. 

“I think I have this mode that gets switched on when I am participating in a festival like this. Normally, I am like the worst person for multitasking but now I can sort of manage,” Kang said during an interview Thursday morning.

Violinist Clara-Jumi Kang poses for pictures after rehearsal held on Thursday. (MPyC)

“By the time I had only two pages left to perform in the fourth movement, I just did not want to let it end. I really loved it,” Kang said about Wednesday night’s performance of Schubert’s Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello No. 2 in E flat major, D 929 at the Alpensia Concert Hall.

Clara-Jumi Kang performs at Alpensia Concert Hall on Wednesday. (MPyC)

“The piece by Schubert is a composition that can be performed only when the pianist has the confidence to do it. I think Kim Sun-wook’s love of the piece pulled the performance out. Kim is, in my opinion, a pianist who gives ‘you do what you want to do then I will tune in’ kind of assurance to others.

“Cellist Kim Doo-min, you will not be able to find another chamber music partner like him,” Kang continued.

On Thursday, Kang was to perform once more with pianist Kim for Erich Korngold’s Quintet for Two Violins, Viola, Cello and Piano. Looking excited at the mention of the composer’s name, Kang said she is planning an album for next year that features her recordings of Korngold.

On Saturday, Kang will take the concertmaster post of the 2018 MPyC’s newly formed Festival Orchestra.

It has been about 10 years since she performed as a concertmaster at Korea National University of Arts, Kang said, adding that being a concertmaster is still a demanding job for her. But she also expressed excitement at working with the orchestra members and conductor Dmitrij Kitajenko.

“This orchestra has really good wind instrument players. They render sounds that really fill the air, packed,” Kang said.

Having finished the first rehearsal with Kitajenko on Wednesday, Kang also said, “The presence, the fact that he was standing there just inspired.” “I want to make the best of myself, when working with conductor Kitajenko,” Kang added.

Kang will also be onstage with conductor Chung Chi-yong, but this time as a soloist. With conductor Chung and the Festival Orchestra, she will perform Bernstein’s “Serenade” after Plato’s “Symposium” on Aug. 4 at the Alpensia Music Tent.

“The Bernstein piece is one of the pieces that many violinists look forward to playing, but opportunities do not come around enough. It is also my first time learning and playing this piece. I am glad to have such an opportunity here, in dedication to the late artist,” Kang said.

Kang, who made her Pyeongchang debut in 2007, has been performing at the music festival for many years. Her devotion to the festival seems to have grown bigger over the years. During an interview Wednesday, pianist and festival artistic director Son Yeol-eum said that Kang has been a great help to the festival.

“I hope this summer festival will become ‘the’ summer festival in Korea. I think we cannot afford to lose a chamber music festival like this, and it would be a shame if we let go of it,” Kang said. “I hope it can someday become a festival like the Lucerne Festival and the Verbier Festival,” Kang added.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)