Becoming a new Person - Interview with Yeyeong Jenny Jin
The Michael Hill intl. Violin Competition winner talks about Itzhak Perlman, Sir Michael Hill, and her thoughts about competitions
Born in South Korea, Yeyeong Jenny Jin began her studies at age two. When she was eight, she won the Kumho-Asiana Cultural Foundation Award, resulting in the loan of a fine half-size violin made in 1700 by Carlo Giuseppe Testore, and a solo recital. At age 9, she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with renowned pedagogue Ida Kavafian.
In 2016, Yeyeong became a student of the Perlman Music Program. She won top prizes at the 2020 Stulberg International String Competition and the 2022 Zhuhai International Violin Competition. Currently, she is enrolled at the Juilliard School, studying with Itzhak Perlman and Li Lin.
WFIMCnow: How would you describe your teachers?
Jenny Jin: They are very different. Mr. Perlman, his lessons are just big, just very broad, like his music. We basically just play through everything, and he looks more at the bigger picture. Then with Mr. Lin, he's the one who looks at all the small details.
For how long do you know Mr. Perlman? There must be many stories about him…
I think it´s been about six, seven years now. I first went to his summer camp in 2016.
Perlman is just a very funny guy. One time last year, he had cataract eye surgery. At my next lesson, he was wearing a red jumper, came with a red scooter, and had dark shades on. It was just so funny…
Yeyeong Jenny Jin
You already won a number of competitions- why did you decide to go to New Zealand?
I liked the repertoire choices and the way that we had to speak in front of the audience. I'm rather introvert, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to make a breakthrough. Also, New Zealand is a very different country, and very beautiful. I've never been, so I applied.
Do you know Anna Im, the winner of the previous competition?
Yeah, I went to school together with her!
So when you went to New Zealand, how well did you do talking on stage? Did it help you? Did you feel comfortable?
Yeah, it helped me. But before the speech, I had to play some music, like Bach and Paganini. Honestly, I wasn't really happy. I thought it didn´t go well. So then during my speech, I tried to gather my mind and just tried to talk with the audience, to connect with them. It helped me to relax, calmed everything down, and I could focus on the moment.
Is it easier for you to speak before you play? Or better play before you speak?
Easier to speak before I play. If I speak before I play, I feel a certain expectation that you have to give to the audience. If I call a piece really exciting, I also have to make it really exciting for the audience. I think that's fun to look forward to and gives you something to focus on.
You played in two different places, Queenstown and Auckland. How did you like Queenstown?
It was great! Lots of mountains, and I really liked the air. It was really fresh. Also, there's a very good brunch place in Queenstown. One of the pianists, Sarah Watkins, I used to run into her every morning because we both were always at the same brunch place. Also, the audience was really nice. I was actually very surprised to see Sir Michael Hill sitting in the audience! It felt really nice.
Did you meet him more closely? He's quite an amazing person…
Right, he is really amazing. And so genuine! I was really surprised at how he gave us a feeling of being in a community! He invited us all to his house for the drawing of lots, and gave us a little speech about his life that really inspired me. And he gave us tips on being successful. I still have that paper with me all the time. That's great.
Can you let us know his recipe for being successful?
Try to always be yourself. Work hard, really hard. Don´t be afraid to fail….and a few more points which I don´t remember right now.
Later in the competition, you moved on to Auckland. Did you stay with host families all the time?
Actually, I came with my mom, so we stayed at Airbnb´s in both cities.
In Auckland, you played at the finals- with conductor Andrew Litton and with the Auckland Philharmonia.
At the finals, I was the most nervous out of all the rounds. I wish I could have been more relaxed. I just constantly felt like I had to do something more while I was playing the Brahms… but I think towards the end of the first movement, it got better and I started to have fun. But before that, I was having a little panic attack.
It's a very heavy piece for competition. Have you played the piece with orchestra before?
No, it was my first time!
Wow, that is very impressive….
By now you must be back home in New York. Are you planning do other competitions in the future?
I was having a conversation with my teacher about it, and although it's really motivating, we decided that I need to really improve before doing another competition because I don't want to keep doing competitions just for the sake of it. I want to change and I want to learn. I'm working on becoming a new person.
I've done several competitions before Michael Hill, and it definitely helped me. I think it's like a speedy way to improve for me personally. As for other competitions, the pressure gets less and less… because you know, as you do more, that all you can do is do your best. You just let go of yourself and give everything to the stage. Doing a lot of competitions helped me get that mindset in my head. When I'm on stage, I really try to just not be self-conscious and just give everything I have.
Pictures: ©James Robert, Michael Hill Int’l Violin Competition
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