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Yang In-mo explores ‘The Genetics of Strings’

Violinist says value of classical music can be found in designer suits, hip-hop and more

Violinist Yang In-mo plays Ravel’s Tzigane during a press event held at culture complex Ode Port in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (Universal Music)
Violinist Yang In-mo plays Ravel’s Tzigane during a press event held at culture complex Ode Port in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (Universal Music)

Violinist Yang In-mo, also known as In-mo Yang or sometimes “Inmonini” -- a nickname after the legendary violinist Paganini -- released a new album on Tuesday.

The album, named “The Genetics of Strings,” is his second album following “Paganini: 24 Caprices for Violin,” in 2018 after winning the 2015 Paganini International Violin Competition. Yang was the first Korean to win the top prize at the competition.

“After the Paganini album, I was searching for directions. Strings are something so close to me, the wire marks on my hand prove it,” Yang, 26, said at a press event held Tuesday in southern Seoul.

The album, released under the Deutsche Grammophon label, consists of 11 tracks and spans a wide range of works. It includes pieces by 12th century composer Hildegard von Bingen and Piazzolla, whose centennial is being celebrated this year.

For the album, the violinist went back in time, using gut strings with fine metal wrappings to replicate the lower pitch sounds of older violins for works from before the 19th century. In the past, violin strings were made from sheep intestines.

“The history of strings is a history of tension,” he said. “I was curious about the strings. The strings became tighter and tighter over the years and that changed everything.”

The album also features Baroque composer Matteis’ Fantasia in A minor, Corelli’s Three sonata in D minor, Russian composer Shchedrin’s Gypsy Melody and more. Other musicians also make an appearance, such as soprano Im Sun-hae, violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill and guitarist Park Jong-ho.

Like many other artists, most of Yang’s performances have either been canceled or postponed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everything has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a time to question myself. The big question was, ‘For whom do I play?’” the violinist said.

“Hearing was linked to survival, but not anymore. We now use hearing for higher level activities. There will come a time when we will be tired of seeing and turn to hearing and classical music would mean much more.”

Yang hopes classical music can be appreciated by a wider audience because it is “more than just a music genre.”

He calls the intrinsic value of classical music as “Classic,” saying it exists in other music genres and “in everything around us.”

“Classic should be sexy. It’s about moderation. The rest is left to imagination. There is something classic in Armani suits, the dynamic between the beats and lyrics of hip-hop,” the young violinist said.

Celebrating the release of his new album, Yang will hold two recitals in Korea, one in Seoul on Saturday at the Seoul Arts Center and another in Daegu on March 19. Tickets cost from 30,000 won to 70,000 won.

Yang will play with the 1718 “Bostonian” Stradivarius that is on loan from a private donor.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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