Violinist Yang In-mo returns to Korea with new award and new hairdo

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Violinist Yang In-mo returns to Korea with new award and new hairdo

Violinist Yang In-mo plays his violin during a press conference held on Thursday at the Lotte Concert Hall in southern Seoul. [LOTTE CONCERT HALL]

Violinist Yang In-mo plays his violin during a press conference held on Thursday at the Lotte Concert Hall in southern Seoul. [LOTTE CONCERT HALL]

Violinist Yang In-mo, who became the first Korean to win the first place prize at the prestigious XII International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland in May, has returned to Korea for the first time since the feat for a series of concerts.  
To mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra, Yang will perform a concert in Busan on Nov. 2. He'll then come to Seoul’s Lotte Concert Hall on Nov. 10. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also booked him to stage a concert at the Blue House’s Yeongbingwan for an upcoming series of classical music concerts from Nov. 1 to 11. Yang’s concert will be on Nov. 7 along with the Korean Symphony Orchestra.  
Prior to his Korean concerts, Yang met with local reporters on Thursday at the Lotte Concert Hall in southern Seoul to talk about his big win, the upcoming concerts and the next steps of his career. He shocked the local press when he arrived sporting a short hairstyle. 
“What happened to your signature look of wavy long hair?” a reporter asked.  
“Oh, it just took too much of my time drying it after taking a shower,” Yang replied. “Plus, I finally found a good hair salon in Berlin so I think I will have my hair short for quite some time.”  
Because Yang had already won first prize at the prestigious International Violin Competition “Premio Paganini” in Genova, Italy in 2015, many people did not expect him to compete in any more international competitions. When he won the Paganini Competition, it was the first time since 2006 that the competition jury awarded the first prize.  

“I was only 19 back then and I also thought, which was quite naive of me, that I won’t be able to compete in any other competitions,” said Yang. “At that time, I was studying in the United States so I didn’t think I could really expand my career as I would’ve hoped since winning.”  
After moving to Berlin, Yang said he needed to challenge himself and put himself in the spotlight to have a more active career.  
“The fastest way for me to achieve that was by winning another renowned international competition,” said Yang. 
Now his calendar is fully booked for the next few years. He's doing his best to make sure he doesn't take on too much in order to give the best performances possible.  
For the upcoming concert at Lotte Concert Hall with the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra, Yang will be playing contemporary music composer Unsuk Chin’s “Violin Concerto No. 1.”  
The piece, written in 2001, brought the the Korean composer prominence as it won her the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2004.  
“I’ve been practicing the piece since June, three hours every day. It’s indeed the most technically difficult piece I’ve ever played,” said Yang. “The most interesting aspect of this piece is that it has both classical and contemporary sides to it — the two kind of works in harmony as if they are conversing with each other.”  
Yang said he’s especially drawn to music written by composers of his time.  
“I recently found myself shedding tears while listening to music written by contemporary composers,” said Yang. “It was always Shubert or Brahms that moved my emotions but now I think I get the music of 20th and 21st centuries.”  
The 27-year-old violinist said his ultimate goal as a musician is to compose his own violin concerto.

“I dream of writing a violin concerto and playing it one day. I am actually working on it every day and talking to my friends who are composers.”

But Yang said he is concerned about focusing on contemporary music as audience members, especially in Korea, still find the genre difficult to listen to.  
“I think it’s important not to take a step at a time, but a half a step at a time,” said Yang. 
“But I hope they understand that contemporary music isn’t all that difficult. All the sounds we hear as we walk down a street in Seoul, let’s say, is contemporary music. I hope the audience at the upcoming concert come with an open mind and just try to enjoy the sounds we hear every day. I think being at that concert, listening to a piece composed by one of the leading composers of the 21st century is significant in itself.”

Yang’s concert with the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lotte Concert Hall on Nov. 10 begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through Interpark or Lotte Concert Hall and range in price from 30,000 won ($21.15) to 70,000 won. 

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