FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: From the Far East to West Sussex for festival series

Young-Choon
Young-Choon

The International Piano series at this year’s Festival of Chichester continues with return visits from Young-Choon Park and Reiko Fujisawa. Their recitals will be in Chichester Cathedral in aid of the Cathedral Restoration & Development Trust. Both are free admission, with a retiring collection.

On Monday, July 4 at 1pm, acclaimed South Korean pianist Young-Choon Park performs sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, including No. 23, Appassionata.

Young-Choon Park has given concerts all over the world from the Esterhazy Palace to New York’s Lincoln Center. She began to learn the piano at the age of four and gave her first full recital when she was seven. But she insists that was nothing unusual.

“Starting at four years old is not that young,” she says.

“I was just trying really hard to be a good pianist, but a lot of things just happen by accident, especially at that age. Everything is by accident, meeting people...everything. I was inspired by music that I heard, and I wanted to learn the same thing. But I didn’t even have a piano at home. My parents were not musicians. They were not very encouraging at the beginning. They were very enthusiastic later on, but at the beginning they didn’t have the musical background. They thought I was too young for the piano. They wanted me to be a ballerina.”

Young-Choon played the Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1 with the Seoul Symphony Orchestra at the age of nine and then, at the age of 12, she went to the Juilliard School in New York – a very dark time in her life, as she recalls.

“It was a long time ago. Unfortunately, I went by myself because my parents had jobs. They supported me financially. I stayed with a Korean lady. At the Juilliard at that time – I don’t know what it is like now – there was no boarding. I was too young to be alone so my parents arranged a Korean lady.”

Young-Choon’s Chichester recital will be followed on Monday, July 11 at 1pm by a visit from Japanese pianist Reiko Fujisawa with a programme featuring Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Reiko’s performances have thrilled audiences at London’s Southbank Centre and Wigmore Hall.

Her playing fuses the sensibilities of a musician raised in the Far East who trained in the west. Reiko took up the piano at the age of three, an unusual direction given her background. She grew up in the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands: her parents played traditional Japanese instruments but were keen for Reiko to expand her musical horizons. Reiko studied at the Musashino University of Music in Tokyo but was eager to further her knowledge abroad. She spent time in San Francisco and then came to the UK.

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