Up Close & Personal with Seong-Jin Cho
Interview with Seong-Jin Cho
Winner of the 17th Chopin International Competition (2015)
For a quarter of a century, the Singapore International Piano Festival has presented over 80 pianists in recital, many of whom are among the very greatest in the music world. Unlike most recital series, each annual edition of the Festival uniquely features recitals over consecutive evenings, offering concertgoers who regularly attend every evening an intense, varied and richly rewarding pianistic and musical experience. Alongside such celebrated virtuosi as Nelson Freire, Stephen Kovacevich, Nikolai Demidenko, Pascal Rogé, Piotr Anderszewski, Stephen Hough, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Lars Vogt and Angela Hewitt, the Festival has also had a fantastic track record of impressive debuts by such rising stars as Benjamin Grosvenor, Wang Yuja, Lukáš Vondráček and Nareh Arghamanyan, as it strives to nurture promising young talent. Beginning in 1994, at a time when piano recitals were rare and much-treasured events, the Festival has since established itself as a regular highlight in the musical landscape of Singapore, hosting pianists – and audiences – from all over the world as Asia’s Premier Piano Festival.
In this 25th edition milestone year, we are thrilled to present Dénes Várjon, Jeremy Denk, Seong-Jin Cho and Dang Thai Son in the festival line-up. We speak to up-and-coming pianist Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the 17th Chopin International Competition (2015) ahead of his Singapore International Piano Festival debut this June.
- How did you get started with the piano and classical music?
As my parents love classical music, we had many classical music recordings at home. So when I was a child, I listened to classical music quite often and it became quite natural for me. When I was six, my parents asked me to play the piano as a hobby and I really liked it.
- At the age of 15, you were the youngest winner in the history of the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan in 2009. What was the experience like?
I was very nervous, but I enjoyed it very much. I had previously participated in the Junior Chopin competition in Moscow but the Hamamatsu was the first international competition which I participated as a young adult. Compared to the Chopin competition, I paid more attention by listening to other competitors diligently. I didn’t expect to win.
- What’s the hardest and best part about being a musician?
I think the path of understanding classical music is a lifetime journey. We have to sacrifice many things for music and expect no compensation. But I think we musicians are very lucky because we can live with great art every day. If we love music and become a musician, we may not live an easy life but we can live a fulfilling one.