Her career has been far from ordinary. Jinjoo Cho ’06 is a world-renowned violinist – and she’s just 27. She’s been playing professionally since age 17, when she won the prestigious Montreal International Musical Competition. She beat out 250 others in the preliminary round alone.
In that competition, Cho was launched to stardom. Since then, she has performed in the world’s finest music halls: Carnegie Hall, Severance Hall and Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires, among them. Now she will be giving back to Gilmour in the best way she knows how, through music.
For three weeks next summer, Cho will host ENCORE Chamber Music at Gilmour, bringing internationally acclaimed music teachers and talented young musicians from around the world to campus.
“It’s the most meaningful thing I’ve done so far in my career,” says Cho, who recently completed a residency in Seoul, South Korea. “The fact that it will take place at Gilmour makes it even more meaningful.”
ENCORE aims to educate young musicians through musical collaboration. The chamber music festival is open to international students of exceptional talent (ages 14 to 23) who aspire to be professional musicians.
Cho approached several venues about hosting the festival, but she chose Gilmour because of the school’s strong support of the concept.
“The most important thing was their openness to the arts and their willingness to integrate art into Gilmour,” Cho says. “Everybody I talked to at Gilmour was very appreciative of what this could be. They really believed in this vision, they fully embraced it, and for me as a creative artist, that is always what made Gilmour really special to me.”
Sitting prominently on ENCORE’s faculty are those who influenced Cho most on her own path to artistry. Among them, Paul Kantor, Jamie Laredo and Sharon Robinson, the festival’s three artistic advisors. Having traveled the world, Cho says Clevelanders’ generosity of spirit, their desire to help others, is rare and unique.
“Musicians in Cleveland are incredibly generous – they share so much of their experience and love for this art form that it transmits into you,” Cho says. “In a way, they give out pieces of themselves so our potential can shine through, and I find that to be extraordinary.
“That really was the biggest motivation for creating this festival,” Cho continues. “I want to expose all the young aspiring musicians to that nurturing.”
How does one become a violinist of your caliber – what traits must have one have?
I think you have to love it. You have to love being involved in the artistic process, because no one can teach you to love something. When you love something, you think about it. And when you think about it, you act on it.
What is your favorite concert hall in which to perform?
Every venue is really special in its own way. I love Severance Hall, because that was where I made my first performance, at age 15. I played with the youth orchestra.
What advice do you give aspiring violinists?
Work hard. Trust yourself.
Who were your most influential teachers at Gilmour?
Mr. McCamley (English) and Mr. Horner (World History). They taught me the things you can’t see are the most important things. Mr. McCamley encouraged you to explore your creativity and your own voice. For me, as an artist, it was such a priceless lesson. It eventually translated into my playing.
Where did your talent come from? Is your family musical?
My family is not musical at all. I think it has more to do with how I work – how I practice and how I work. Especially when I was younger, I had a good work ethic.