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Cambridge live

We speak to 2018 Artist in Residence Esther Yoo

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Above: 2018 Cambridge Classical Series Artist in Residence Esther Yoo

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a musician and how long have you been playing the violin?

My first instrument was the piano actually, which I began playing when I was 4 years old. My family have always loved music so they took me along to really great concerts nearby at Carnegie Hall & Lincoln Center and I was immediately drawn to the violin performers. Soon after I wanted to try playing the violin myself and have been doing so ever since!

What inspired you to begin playing?

To begin with, I was very inspired by the concerts I was taken to as a child and also, my Mother used to play the flute as a hobby which I loved hearing and watching her practice at home. I was extremely shy as a child and musical instruments felt like a safer outlet of communication to me then.

You’ve also been Cambridge Corn Exchange’s Artist in Residence for the 2017-18 season, what’s been your favourite moment in the role?

I loved kicking off the Z.E.N. Trio’s very first tour last fall in Cambridge. It was a really memorable evening to share our music at the Corn Exchange. It’s an honor to be the Corn Exchange’s Artist in Residence. I appreciate how much the team there value the importance of sharing music with wider audiences and particularly creating programs and opportunities for younger audiences. I was thrilled that they were interested in supporting my desire to help young people struggling with mental health issues through music. In collaboration with the RPO, we created a very meaningful project at the Phoenix Center, a specialized care unit for young people with eating disorders, which has been a very important project for me.

Tell us about the Glazunov Violin Concerto you'll be playing

I love the Glazunov Concerto for its compactness and brilliance and I even recorded it for my debut album on DeutscheGrammophon. I always feel that this Concerto is overshadowed by the longer and more popular concertos and is far too underplayed for what it has to offer. It is structurally unique as all 3 movements flow into each other without any pauses. While the 1st movements of concertos are typically the longest and most substantial movement, in Glazunov’s concerto, the 1st is the shortest and only gives a taste of what’s to come. The 2nd movement goes into deep romanticism and feelings of longing as well as introductions of Russian folk elements. The fireworks really burst and develop throughout the 3rd movement. 

Tell us about your music making with Jay Richardson and the premiere he's composed that you'll also be playing on 5 May

I’m very pleased to be working with Jay again after the memorable premiere of his piece “Laulan” at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in 2016. Since then we have been able to connect on various common interests and musical ideas which makes the collaboration even more enjoyable. I’m very curious to discover the new piece he will compose for the May 5th concert, which will have been inspired by all the musical workshops we have done with the young people at the Phoenix Centre over the past several months. 

Do you have a favourite piece of music to perform and why?

It’s hard to pick a favorite piece but my favorite composers are Bach and Shostakovich. They’re quite contrasting composers obviously but I connect with both in a profound manner. I’ll gladly play any of their works at any time.

If you have any spare time what do you like to do apart from play?

I love reading, writing, doing yoga and connecting with my audiences off-stage through social media. 

Currently, most of my spare time is being used to prepare for the upcoming release of a film I recorded the soundtrack for, “On Chesil Beach”, based on the bestselling novel by Ian McEwan and starring Academy Award Nominee Saoirse Ronan. The film and the official soundtrack album will be released on May 18. This was my first film music experience and I have enjoyed it tremendously and can’t wait for the public to see/hear the result.

What can people expect to see when they come to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform?

I’m greatly looking forward to the concert with the RPO at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on May 5th. It’s going to be a wonderful evening featuring a diverse and passionate program performed by a truly magnificent orchestra, lead by Michal Nesterowicz, who I have worked with previously and is a phenomenal conductor. I hope to see many of you at the concert! 

Esther Yoo performs alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday 5 May - To book your tickets click HERE