Musical family together againFor the Chung Trio, the family business hasn’t always come first. A chamber music ensemble made up of three celebrity siblings ― Chung Kyung-wha (violin), Myung-hwa (cello) and Myung-whun (piano) ― the trio has concentrated more on individual careers as soloists in recent years than on group performance. Their last public performance together dates back to 1995.
Almost 10 years later, the Chung Trio will embark upon a reunion tour of Korea, starting Monday in Tongyeoung and coming to Seoul Arts Center on Sept. 4. They’ll be playing Brahms, Shostakovich and Beethoven, composers who are among their favorites.
The Seoul concert will be even more meaningful for the musicians themselves, as it will also celebrate the 86th birthday of the siblings’ mother, Lee Won-suk, who brought up seven children in total. The concert will be produced by Ms. Lee’s eldest son, Chung Myung-geun, who is the director of the classical music company CMI.
Chung Myung-geun, who used to perform with his younger siblings as a violist, says that even in their youth, the three of them always had an instinctive awareness of each other’s musical styles when they played together.
“They argued like any other family trio when they were practicing together,” he recalls.
“But they had a natural understanding about each other in ways that went beyond the common exchange of mutual communication you would normally see in other family musicians,” Mr. Chung added.
The Chung Trio’s first public performance dates back to 1958, when the young trio gave a concert at the National Theatre in Seoul. But their beginnings as a trio date back to when they performed in the family’s living room in Seattle, Washington, where the family had moved.
At the time of their public debut in Seoul, Myung-hwa, the eldest sister, was 19. Kyung-hwa, who began studying the violin at the age of 6, was 15. Myung-whun was 10. Myung-so, the second-eldest sister, was a flutist until she gave up her musical career.
More than four decades after their debut, the siblings have matured musically in their own ways.
Kyung-hwa went to Juilliard, quickly establishing a career in North America and Europe. Myung-hwa, a cellist, became a music professor at the Korean National University of Arts.
Myung-whun, who made his musical debut as a pianist, turned to conducting in 1971, directing at the Opera Bastille in Paris and Santa Cecilia Orchestra.
The pieces in the upcoming Seoul concert have been chosen to represent the classics, romanticism and the 20th century.
Beethoven’s “Ghost Trio,” written in 1809, was the great composer’s first work in 11 years, finished during a period of despondency. Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2, which was composed during World War II, is regarded as one of the musician’s most important compositions, embodying the futility and destructiveness of war. Brahms’s Piano Trio in B Major emblemizes the style of the composer’s later years.
by Park Soo-mee
The Chung Trio’s national tour begins in Tongyeoung on Monday, stopping in Daegu on Wednesday, Busan on Thursday and at the Seoul Arts Center on 7:30 p.m., Sept. 4. Tickets are 30,000 ($26) to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 518-7343.