You began learning the violin when you were 3 years old – do you remember how that came to be?
I have no memory of ever starting to learn the violin, but I had apparently seen a family friend playing it at a dinner party, and must have been very impressed. After insisting that I would be instructed in the way of the violin, my first teacher had me practise with a tissue box and a stick before I was given my first, 1/16th-size violin to play.
What motivates you? Why do you want to be a musician?
I love music and believe great music-making can have a profound impact on people. I don’t feel I really know the answer to these questions, but I do know that it would break my heart if I couldn’t make music any more.
Since leaving ANAM earlier this year you have swapped South Melbourne for Philadelphia to study the Bachelor of Music at the Curtis Institute of Music. How is that going? Has it been what you’ve expected? Are there any comparisons to ANAM?
Much like moving from Sydney, where I have spent my whole life, to Melbourne early this year, moving to the US has been a big change and something that has been difficult to wrap my head around and adjust to. I had no idea what to expect apart from the fact that everyone would be very good and that I would probably feel completely out of my depth. In the last two months at Curtis, I have witnessed some great music-making and have had some very inspiring lessons with my teachers and coachings with my chamber group.
I feel I have learned a lot from everyone during my time at ANAM, and gained experience I know I will be able to use in the years to come.
How do things like the ANAM Concerto Competition benefit you as a musician? What do you get out of the experience (or hope to get out of it)?
I feel so very lucky to have been given the chance to play with the TSO as a part of this competition. I have learned a lot from the process of preparing this concerto throughout the year and have much more to be learned still from the experience of actually putting it together and performing it with orchestra and conductor.
Personally, I think performing with the orchestra will challenge me to listen with greater attention to the orchestra and play together with everyone in a way that makes musical sense. I expect I’ll also feel challenged to have greater conviction in my musical ideas, as it takes a lot more commitment to present these ideas convincingly on such a large scale. From this experience, I want to have gained more understanding and more insight into the music, playing with people, and hopefully a lot of fun and enjoyment!
How are you going to prepare for the Concerto Competition final with TSO?
It’s helpful to have already performed the Tchaikovsky Concerto with Louisa Breen in its entirety at ANAM earlier this year. The rigour and length of the piece makes it a challenge for me mentally and physically.
Since working with my teacher, Robin Wilson, at ANAM on this concerto, it has been really interesting to gain some further insights from my teachers at Curtis, Pamela Frank and Arnold Steinhardt. Aside from continuing to unpack and learn the orchestration, I hope to try out and experiment with new ideas, so that I can bring back an interpretation of this music that has hopefully evolved from my last performance of it. I’m excited to play this for my family and friends, though I feel sorry that they have had to listen to me play this piece on numerous occasions this year already. I really want to see if I can bring back something a little different that some people might enjoy.
Tell us a little bit about studying with ANAM’s Resident Violin Faculty, Dr Robin Wilson
Robin has been my teacher for a little over six years now, and I have learned much from him about many things beyond the violin and music, of which he has enormous knowledge. He has always seemed to live and breathe music, and thinks deeply about his students’ wellbeing and progress. Robin has always encouraged me to bring my own ideas to the music I play, helped me to try and bring them to life, and taught me of the importance of being well-informed about the styles and language of music, about composers and performers, and about the world in general outside of music. He is demanding and extremely perceptive – very little escapes his notice – but he is always encouraging, kind and understanding, and very generous with his time and energy. I am very lucky to have had the chance to study with him.
If you had to describe the violin to someone who had never heard of it, what would you say?
Three words to describe Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 35
Sentimental, violinistic music!
Josephine Chung (NSW, violin) along with Alex Arai-Swale (NZ, double bass) and Magdalenna Krstevska (VIC, clarinet) are the three ANAM Concerto Competition finalists to perform with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO) under conductor Johannes Fritzsch.
ANAM CONCERTO COMPETITION FINAL
FRI 17 NOVEMBER 7.30PM
Johannes Fritzsch conductor
Alexander Arai-Swale (NZ) double bass
Josephine Chung (NSW) violin
Magdalenna Krstevska (VIC) clarinet
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Venue Federation Concert Hall / 1 Davey St, Hobart, TASMANIA
Bookings tso.com.au / 1800 001 190