Violinist Shin Hyun-su, right, 22, will give her debut performance Friday with the National Maestro Ivan Fischer, below, will lead the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C. for concerts in Seoul, Thursday and Gyeonggi Province, Friday. / Courtesy of Vincero
By Lee Hyo-won
Shin Hyun-su, South Korea's proud winner of the 2008 Long-Thibauld Competition, will make her debut Friday with the Ivan Fischer-led National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C. in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province.
``My heart flutters,'' she said about playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor with the esteemed American ensemble in a recent Korea Times interview. ``I think this concert will be different from my past performances. I've been listening to a lot of Maestro Ivan Fischer's recordings, and I really like his style.''
But the 21-year-old looked tired. ``I have a terrible cold,'' she said, smiling weakly. In fact, she was suffering from a high fever when she won first grand prize at the Long-Thibauld. She also took home the Orchestra and Recital prizes. ``I think it was just a matter of concentration,'' she said pensively.
In 2001, Shin's Russia-trained countryman Lim Dong-hyek became the youngest ever winner in the history of the Long-Thibauld's piano section. Born and raised her whole life in Korea, Shin is among the clan of ``purely domestic-bred'' artists to champion international events.
But the violinist has been enjoying international exposure for some time. Some say she's like pop star BoA of the classical music world, having a management agency in Japan, where her first CD was also released. With her dimpled smile, the svelte young woman is quite popular here as well. ``Sometimes people recognize me on the street when I'm just going to the convenience store, and I get mortified because I'm wearing shabby sweats,'' she said shyly.
Contrary to her delicate appearance, however, Shin is something else on stage, and gives way to sure-fire articulation. Her Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Seikyo Kim, was electric.
Shin started fiddling with the instrument at age four and began studying under the honored violinist-professor Kim Nam-yun by the time she was 10. But she said that her relationship with the violin began even before she was born. ``Of course my sister (A-ra) is also a violinist, so it was natural for me. But my mom listened to a lot of violin music when she was carrying me, and she said I reacted to it when I was a baby,'' she said.
``My life is all about the violin ― Shin Hyun-su exists because of the violin," she said. Shin's manager commented how, even when she becomes frustrated because of the violin, with a difficult cadenza or such, things come full circle and the violin becomes the ultimate stress reliever.
``I'm practicing a lot for the Mendelssohn concerto,'' she said. ``It's a very Romantic piece but compared to other violin concertos it allows the player to express her own character more.''
The performance with the National Symphony Orchestra is just one of the many engagements that await her. After she returns from Bordeaux, France, she will appear with the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra with the Mendelssohn concerto before making her China recital debut at the end of the month in Shanghai. In July, she returns to Japan for a concert tour, and 2010 plans include appearances with the Radio France Philharmonique, New Japan Philharmonic and NHK Symphony.
``I feel ecstatic. A performer feels happiest when she performs. But you don't necessarily do well even if you practice a lot,'' she said.
The Long-Thibauld title has catapulted her career ― does she feel pressured?
``It's definitely different. Competitions are like exams, and even though I've played in concerts from time to time, now I have to connect with different audiences. It can be overwhelming, with all the attention and people around me pushing me. Emotions can take a hold of you. But I feel that I must try to keep a cool head,'' she said.
The concert will take place at 8 p.m. Friday at Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Complex, Gyeonggi Province. Tickets cost from 50,000 to 120,000 won. In addition to the Mendelssohn concerto, the program includes the overture from Wagner's ``The Mastersingers of Nuremberg'' and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Call 1577-7766.
On Thursday, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major with violinist Nikolaj Znaider at Seoul Arts Center. The program features Daniel Kellogg's ``Western Skies,'' which was commissioned by the orchestra, and Dvorak's Symphony No. 7. Tickets cost from 50,000 and 180,000 won. Call (02) 599-5743.