Soo Jin Chung: integrating life into art

I recently had a chance to sit down with pianist Soo Jin Chung to ask her a few questions ahead of her performance this Saturday. I'd like to share some of her answers with you below.

Tell me a little about your childhood and when you realized you were really interested in music.

"I started going to a small music academy/daycare at the age of six before immigrating to Canada where I began taking private lessons, albeit inconsistently and increasingly more infrequently. It never occurred to me to seriously pursue music as a career until I attended my first summer program at Aspen Summer Music School when I was sixteen years old. Over the years, music must have integrated itself as a way of life for me without my knowing; once I was immersed in an environment full of passionate young musicians, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging and a thirst to discover more. I knew I would be taking a huge risk delving into the classical music world with only a few months to prepare myself for college, but I’m so glad I did!"

How do you feel classical musicians can best tailor themselves for the modern world?

"Music, in its purest essence, creates no barrier in time and space for me. Consequently, as a pianist in the twenty-first century, I believe the artistry and depth of fulfillment through music remains the same as it did centuries ago. On the other hand, I think it’s important to keep in mind that there will always be a timeless aspect of humanity but also a constant change and shift in the physical world. For instance, it’s undeniable that the development in technology created different ways that classical music can be accessed and perceived (like this blog post!) As an artist, I will always strive to deliver compelling experiences and to expose my audience to the transformative power of classical music through which the illogical and paradoxical ways of the world can be expressed and understood. However, being a performer entails taking on the responsibility of connecting with the audience beyond my art form. As a musician, there is also the element of historical and theoretical research that enable me to come closer to relating with each composer’s unique artistic universe - this not only informs my performances, but allows me to speak accessibly about the beauty of classical music with others… It’s really an endless list and a never-ending circle. Ultimately, I think the importance lies in the willingness to experience life fully, integrating all aspects of life into art, and to understand the audience and their world, paradoxically, so that our art can be understood."

Where do you enjoy traveling?

"Anywhere I haven’t been before! There’s a thrill that accompanies discovering the unknown - it pushes me out of my comfort zone and inherently imposes challenges. I love to explore and experience different cultures and societal values which inevitably broadens my perspective and understanding of humanity and the world. Also, anywhere with good food."

What do you do to take a break from music?

"There are many things I enjoy doing outside of music, but, to be completely honest, I find myself turning to music in order to take a break from the physical world. To enlighten you on my life away from music, I guess I’d have say I don’t do anything particularly exciting. Time to time, I find myself lost in a novel or a collection of poems. I keep several journals with the intention of documenting my spontaneous creative outbursts which in reality remain mostly untouched. I do, however, have an unwavering love for drinking coffee."

Soo Jin is a phenomenal pianist, and has put together a fantastic, far-reaching recital program. We hope to see you this Saturday at 7 back at Lord of Life Lutheran Church!

I'd also like to thank Soo Jin for being willing to share her thoughts so eloquently with us and you.

– Sebastian Stefanovic

Soo Jin Chung

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