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Singapore International Piano Festival: An Interview with Pianist Seong-Jin Cho

Presented by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the 25th Singapore International Piano Festival begins this week, where several acclaimed pianists will be making their Singapore debuts, from the likes of the legendary Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich to Vietnamese-Canadian pianist Dang Thai Son.

Opening the festival this year on 7th June is young South Korean prodigy Seong-Jin Cho. Born in 1994, he became the youngest-ever winner of Japan’s Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in 2009 at the age of 15. He has since gone on and come to global attention in the autumn of 2015 when he won the coveted First Prize at the Chopin International Competition in Warsaw (which was also the launchpad for Martha Argerich’s career). Cho then signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon, releasing his first album in November 2016 and his second a year later, both receiving critical global acclaim worldwide. Cho has now played in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, and even stepped in for Lang Lang with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for concerts in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hong-Kong and Seoul in November 2017.

We spoke to Cho about his life and career before he arrives at the Victoria Concert Hall this Thursday for his performance. Read the interview in full below:

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Bakchormeeboy: You’ve been learning piano since the age of 6, was it your parents that wanted you to learn it, or was it your own decision? At one point did you realise you wanted to make it your career?

Seong-Jin: It was my parents’ decision for me to learn the piano at first, but naturally the piano grew on me and becoming a pianist became my dream.

Bakchormeeboy: Do you have any favourite composers, or pianists you look to for inspiration? What is your favourite piece to play during concerts?

Seong-Jin: It is hard to name a favourite composer and music as there are too many great composers and pieces!

Bakchormeeboy: Tell us more about the classical music scene in South Korea. Is there enough support or impetus given for young aspiring musicians to pursue a career in that field? If you could change one thing about the scene, what would it be?

Seong-Jin: The classical field in South Korea has grown greatly but I hope there can be more venues with more opportunities for musicians.

Bakchormeeboy: Do you ever have moments where you wonder how different life would be if you hadn’t picked up the piano? What then is it that keeps you going each day?

Seong-Jin: I would have probably pursued a career regarding math, such as an engineer…?

Bakchormeeboy: This will be your Singapore International Piano Festival/ Singaporean solo recital debut. What kind of impression do you hope to leave on your audiences with your music, and what can we look forward to from your performance?

Seong-Jin: I remember the warm welcoming of the audiences when I performed in Singapore last September. I am very much looking forward to meeting the audiences of Singapore.

Seong-Jin Cho plays as part of the 25th Singapore International Piano Festival on 7th June at the Victoria Concert Hall. Tickets are now sold out. For more programmes and performances at the festival, visit SSO

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