Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto
University of Toronto
Bachelor and Master of Music, with Honours
Hochschule der Künste
Konzertexamen, mit Auszeichnung
A personal account
I started playing the violin at the age of five, at the local Korean church. I remember little from this time; apparently I was a gifted little girl, and my mother enrolled me for violin lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
My first teacher was Joyce Gundy. I remember her as a sweet-natured woman who guided me through the ABC's of music reading and playing. I also remember really liking it when I got "EXCELLENT" stickers pasted in my book. Then, I studied with Zhang Yun Zhang, in his suburban Toronto home. I clearly remember his methodic way of teaching, and I studiously went through Kreutzer, Sevcik, and Mazas study books, as well as exercises made up by Zhang Yun Zhang himself. With him, I built the foundations of my violin technique and am grateful for that.
At the age of 13, I returned to the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, and enrolled in the pre-college programme, under the tutelage of Victor Danchenko. During the next five years, I studied the rich violin repertoire at a rapid pace, learning many of the big virtuoso concertos. My appreciation for, and knowledge of the different languages of music expanded as I explored works from Bach to Tchaikovsky; and the constant practice of performing helped me build up my nerves, and taught me how to deal with the pressures that come with being on stage.
I met Lorand Fenyves at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1991, during the Chamber Music Summer Programme. I decided to continue my studies with him in Toronto after Victor Danchenko moved to the USA. From the ages of 17 to 25, I worked intensively with Lorand Fenyves, who was the most committed, generous and knowledgeable violinist, musician and pedagogue I have ever encountered. Practically, he refined my technique, and showed me how to economize my physical efforts, allowing me to play with ease. Musically, he patiently guided me through the world of expression and musical meaning--through harmonic and structural analysis, and also via pure imagination and human instinct. He taught me to aim to communicate with conviction and passion, and yet, at the same time, to question my ideas (?) a lifetime long-constantly renewing and changing my personal musical voice. I feel truly blessed to have had such a wise, elegant and caring mentor. His teachings are forever imprinted in my mind and heart.
The time then arrived to gain some distance and perspective, and I longed to go to Europe. I studied with Andreas Reiner, whom I met while I was concertmaster of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, in Germany. For one year, I had private lessons in Munich, and was challenged to experiment more and to be more daring. He also encouraged me to explore the possibilities of combining baroque prinicipals with modern ideals. His relentlessness and strong convictions were, and still are an inspiration to me.
I then decided to do my final studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin with Professor Thomas Brandis. I had met him first in Banff, the same year I met Lorand Fenyves. His inherent knowledge of the traditional European classical repertoire, and constant attention to sound production, in a way, filled a hole in my education. He showed me how much effort and thought is required to make a phrase sound natural, and his constant attention to sound production resulted in my obtaining a more rich and focused sound.
That was the end of my formal education, but, needless to say, as long as I play the violin, I will constantly be learning. Everyday I am influenced by the wonderful musicians, conductors and colleagues with whom I work and play, from all over the world. How lucky I am to practise a profession which offers no limits to self-improvement, and which celebrates the small successes, every step of the way.