Denis Sungho’s life as a guitar player started at a young age, when he mistakenly applied for the guitar position instead of piano. Even though he started playing guitar by chance, he soon became mesmerized by the guitar’s attractiveness – its warm acoustic tone and its capacity to be part of any instrumental compositions. At the age of 14, he won the first prize at the Belgium Young Talent Competition and became a famous player in Europe. However, he was unaware of the significance of his winning. He had no understanding of winning awards back then, so he just enjoyed that the moment.
A variety of classical music Denis listened to as he grew up influenced and inspired him a lot. Ever since he was a young boy, he listened to music of people like Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould and Martha Agerich. In particular, Agerich, a legendary pianist, was his role model for a long time. When Denis grew up, he came to know her personally and was invited to her music festival. A young boy whose skills had not yet ripened became an adept, professional musician who could confidently stand beside a master of music.
He received his official music education at Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Mons, where he met his teacher Odair Assad, which became a big turning point in his life.
“Were it not for him, I would have repeated my mistake of playing too fast,” he said.
After completing his education, he was selected as a “rising star” by the European Concert Hall Organisation and had his debut concert at Carnegie Hall, which he remembered as the best moment of his music career so far.
“What I highlight the most in music is happiness and sharing,” Denis commented. “I give happiness to the audience. It is as if I become a doctor who heals people’s minds with music. In response to my giving the higher feeling that transcends myself, the audience feels happiness as well, which is an emotional exchange.”
As a musician who emphasizes sharing, he offers the knowledge of music with others. He is a lecturer at Yonsei University’s Techno Art Division. His lectures cover a broad range of music, starting from music itself to the music industry, marketing strategy and current trends of music. He also gives lectures on the convergence of the IT and music industry, and the connection between fashion and music industry.
As such, he finds the meaning of music in happiness and sharing, but also finds its meaning in the lessons it gives. For him, music is like a teacher who imparts him the virtue of being modest and hardworking.
“Music teaches me why I fail and enables me to admit my shortcomings,” he said. “After admitting my fault, a sense of enthusiasm and zeal inside me makes me practice more and stay humble. In that way, I become more mature.”
As he does with music, Denis Sungho has a special connection with Korea.
Seven years ago, after holding his concert at Carnegie Hall, he was invited by the Korean government to Korea. That was his first visit to Korea, and he has been invited to Korea twice more, since then. These visits spurred his interest in the Korean language and that was the very moment when his relationship with the Ewha Language Center began.
“Two and a half months was, of course, not a long time, but this experience at Ewha offered me a treasure that I cannot get anywhere else,” Denis Sungho said. “Even though it was my first time learning Korean, great faculty members helped me maneuver through problems. Their courses were well-organized and easily comprehensible.”
Regarding his future plans, Denis Sungho will stay in Korea and continue his musical activities. In October, after finishing his 2015 China Tour, he will perform with violinist Charlie Siem in Seoul. In addition to this, he will be releasing his new project La Baie, a project in which world famous artists including David Guetta and Celine Dion are participating.
“Life cannot always be happy,” he mused. “There are unexpected events that swoop down upon us and knock us into a quagmire of sorrow. However, when we look at happiness and keep running forward, without letting our attention be diverted elsewhere, happiness will be there, right in front of us.”