Professor Chung Kyung-wha speaks of music breathing in life
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Professor Chung Kyung-wha speaks of music breathing in life
  • Lee Yoon-soo
  • 승인 2014.08.31 22:41
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Photo by Professor Chung Kyung-wha.
The seeds of a legendary violinist’s career were planted during the morning assembly in a schoolyard. “Teachers and students all gathered in the yard for a morning assembly,” professor Chung Kyung-wha recalled. “I still remember the glances I exchanged with my friends. It was the first time I felt the thrill playing in front of an audience.”
Born in a musical family in Korea, professor Chung  encountered violin at the age of six. She studied with the legendary violin teacher Ivan Galamian at Juilliard in New York  and was later coached by violinist Joseph Szigeti.
Professor Chung’s dazzling playing has made her one of classical music’s most acclaimed performers for more than three decades. She is also renowned as a member of the Chung Trio with her brother, conductor and pianist Chung Myung-whun, and her sister, cellist Chung Myung-wha.
Her passionate yet delicate playing that could resonate with almost any period of classical music has stemmed from her deep understanding in music. For her, life and music are not separate.
“My violin is my voice,” professor Chung said. “Music breathes in nature with the blow of wind and the sound of birds. It is the composers who capture the beauty into melody while I am their messenger.”
She attributed her uniquely expressive interpretation of the violin to her memories of youth at Ewha Womans University. Her pure fascination and attachment to nature were formed on Ewha campus. She and her siblings frequently romped on the lawns and went on bug hunting around the Ewha campus with her mother, who is also a Ewha graduate.
Such attachment drove her to choose Ewha as the place to relay her knowledge of music to students. During the spring semester of 2014, professor Chung preceded a one-on-one mentoring program with students majoring in music at Ewha.
“Having lived the society as a woman, I could counsel students based on my life experiences,” professor Chung said.
During the program, professor Chung de-emphasized the technical side and rather concentrated on advising the attitude required of young musicians.
Reviewing the past years of learning the violin, professor Chung recalled two professors who were a true inspiration to her.
“One professor paved the way for my technical skills, and the other encouraged me not to hesitate to play but instead, enjoy playing with freedom,” professor Chung said.
“I could have coached the students on technical aspects, but I wanted to make them play with confidence and conviction just as the professors taught me.”
As she had expected, students soon caught up with her and began to play with intense excitement and passion. On the last day of the mentoring program, the students’ attitudes were drastically different from the first day of the program.
When asked for a few last words for Ewha students, professor Chung said she advises students to be immersed in their vision while being realistic at the same time.
“Nowadays, people live fiercely by setting many goals that overwhelm them,” professor Chung said firmly. “I lived a life with a desire to achieve many things, but I soon realized that it was meaningless. Realistically grasping hold of a palpable vision is much wiser than being swept by meaningless standards set by the society.”
Professor Chung hopes that students do not follow the uniform standard of the society, which she refers to as a vertical growth based on fame and wealth.
“The danger of this capitalist society is that it forces people to follow a vertical growth pattern, but it is crucial to draw your own horizontal growth line based on your own thoughts and dreams,” professor Chung said. “Life depends on you, not on the standards of the society.”

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