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[Herald Interview] Violinist to go on music journey with Bach, Ysaye

Violinist Lim Ji-young (Jang Keun-ho / Music&ArtCompany)
Violinist Lim Ji-young (Jang Keun-ho / Music&ArtCompany)

A violinist will perform the solo repertoires of Bach and Ysaye, to take the audience on a “music trip” to Europe in July.

Violinist Lim Ji-young, 25, will present the unaccompanied violin sonatas by Bach and Ysaye at central Seoul’s Seoul Anglican Cathedral on July 1 and the Seosomun Shrine History Museum on July 11.

Lim rose to stardom in the classical music scene as the first Korean violinist to win the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium. Since then, she has been performing around the world as a soloist.

The set of six sonatas and partitas for solo violin by Bach are considered “the Old Testament” of violin music. Ysaye’s works, inspired by Bach’s, are considered “the New Testament.”

“Nowadays, it is almost impossible to hold onstage in-person performances. Of course, everyone is going through difficulties. But music aficionados have a great thirst for music,” Lim said at a press event held Monday at a studio in western Seoul.

The program of Bach and Ysaye has really pushed Lim to her limits. It would take her more than a week to just read the score, Lim said. But the difficulty was what drove her to keep going.

“As a musician, I would like to send a message to those who are going through difficulties. I hope they can comfort themselves with my struggle and see that there is hope out there,” Lim said.

“The audience will feel as if they are traveling to somewhere in Europe and listening to Bach’s music, forgetting about the worries of reality,” she said.

The venues for the recitals are interesting. Rather than conventional concert halls, they will be held at small establishments known for their architectural design, the Seoul Anglican Cathedral and Seosomun Shrine History Museum.

“When Bach wrote the solo repertoires, (the violin) were not modernized like the ones now. The recitals took place at churches or cathedrals, not big concert halls. There was a difference in the projection or the volume of the sounds,” she said.

Currently, Lim plays a “Sasserno” Stradivarius, created in 1717 by Antonio Stradivari.

“It has a very fitting tone for the solo repertoires of Bach and Ysaye -- the right projection, articulation, volume and clear resonance. It can really prove its worth through this project,” the virtuoso said.

Based in Germany, Lim came to Korea in early February before the number of COVID-19 cases started to sharply rise. Unable to return to Germany, she said she had “no one to reach out to” for the project.

“I had to take charge of the project from the beginning to the end,” she said. “It was just me, the scores and the violin.”

Lim revealed, she had been rather “defensive” in the past when it comes to sharing her performances via social media. But at times like this, she is learning that she can spread positivity through the platform.

“I have been uploading a 1-minute video of myself practicing every day for about a month. The videos are not much, I play in my practice room, dressed in my pajamas and record it with my smartphone. But still, people say they are comforted by them, which is even more comforting to me,” she said.

At July‘s recitals, the seats will be set 1 meter apart from each other and only 25 to 50 percent of the seats will open due to social distancing measures. Tickets cost 50,000 won ($41.40) and can be reserved via Interpark Ticket.

By Im Eun-byel (