by Mike Telin

Cho-&-KimWhat I love about him is that even during a first reading of a piece we already have the gestures,” says violinist Jinjoo Cho about her frequent collaborator, pianist HyunSoo Kim. “We may not have all the notes under the fingers but we are musically on the same page from the very beginning.” Perhaps it’s that certain musical chemistry that has made Cho and Kim audience favorites throughout the Cleveland area.

On Sunday, February 9 beginning at 3:00 pm, Arts Renaissance Tremont presents Jinjoo Cho and HyunSoo Kim in a concert featuring the music of Debussy, Janáček, Tower and Prokofiev at Pilgrim Church in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.

A native of Seoul, South Korea, Jinjoo Cho earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in violin performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music. And she has had considerable success on the competition circuit, including First Prize and Orchestra Award winner of the Buenos Aires International Violin Competition and First Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award winner of the Montréal International Musical Competition. Most recently, she was the First Prize winner of the inaugural Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition.

Also a native of South Korea, HyunSoo Kim earned his Master’s degree in collaborative piano at CIM and has served as a staff pianist at Kent State University since 2011. During the Summer of 2013 he served as a collaborative pianist at Interlochen Arts Academy and has recently joined CIM’s collaborative piano staff.

As a team, Cho and Kim were invited to the chamber music residency program at the Banff Festival in Canada during this past summer. Why does Cho think the collaboration works so well? “We tend to love the same kinds of music and we do feel music in a similar way. In fact we actually learn the pieces together. We don’t learn the notes on our own and then put it together.”

Cho also say that Kim is great at creating programs for the two. “He’s always full of ideas and he discovers a lot of music I would never have thought of playing, for example the Amy Beach that I played on our last ART concert. In fact, this program was actually suggested by him so it’s a very inspiring collaboration.

Cho say that Sunday’s program is built around the theme of war sonatas. “The program has a nice continuity and begins with the Debussy sonata from 1916-17, which is from the beginning of WWI, when things were still a little Victorian and florid, more decorated in a way. Debussy died hearing the bombs as they approached Paris and the violin sonata is his last work. So I’m sure it was written at a very turbulent time in the world.”

Cho points out that while Janáček wrote his sonata in 1914, the year that the war began, he kept revising it until the end of the war. “Janáček’s sonata was written during a time that he was writing a lot of chamber music. And an interesting thing is that he was also a musicologist of Moravian music. He wanted to imitate the sounds of the human voice and you can definitely see that because all of the movements are less then five minutes — about the length of a song. I’m not sure he intended it that way but that is how I see it. And in a way the music does speak directly to the heart and our souls because it does sound like a human voice.”

The program concludes with Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1, written between 1938 and 1946, in the same time frame as World War II. “We wanted the theme of the concert to be profound but we also wanted to put it forward in a subtle way and we think it makes for a very interesting program.”

Moving away from the war sonata theme, the program also includes Joan Tower’s String Force for solo violin written in 2010, a piece Cho began learning at the request of her teacher, Jamie Laredo. “When I first looked at the piece I loved it. It’s very fiery but it’s also a piece that you get right away. You’re never wondering what Tower wants because her writing is so clear. The piece is a very good fit for me. But the best part was getting to play it for her when she was at CIM last semester. She’s just such a great person and a very intuitive composer. And, she is quite funny.”

Published on February 4, 2014

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