He turned an actor in a music video which had a strong story. He wears smoky make-up, wears walker boots, and wears flashy accessories. He also tunes the instrument he needs for his work. And such elements may only be natural to someone who does pop music but it is a different story when that music video is Liszt's rearrangement of Schubert's "Der Erlkonig," the instrument that is tuned is the piano, and the job of that person is a pianist, one who usually and only wears tuxedos. That is the artist 20-year-old pianist Ji-Yong is. And that is why he is Korea's Liszt, walking along a path that is different from his seniors as well as pianists his age. Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt was so popular that his face was seen on chocolate bars and he composed and arranged numerous songs but after endlessly suffering as an artist, he met his death after turning a priest. So it is no coincidence that Ji-Yong's first album released on October 26 was titled "LISZTOMANIA" which refers to the fan frenzy toward Liszt during his performances.
Inside the jacket of his album, there is not a single photo of him playing the piano and instead only grey depressed-looking shots of him standing alone. "It's not like I play the guitar and you'll know I play the piano when you listen to the music," he so simply and easily said of his album, showing how free-spirited and flexible-minded he is. And while many pianists are reluctant to work with ballerinas who express themselves in completely different timings from pianists, Ji-Yong collaborated with ballerina Kang Sue-jin through "The Ballet" in April. And the "Stop & Listen" project, in the form of a guerilla concert that took place in open spaces throughout Seoul, fell in line with his vision on art that his performances "are like parties." He also collaborated with Japanese musician Free Tempo in October and was a season 3 member of Ensemble DITTO who takes the initiative to make authentic classical music become popular. Now Ji-Yong has taken a more further and closer step to doing so.
The showcase held at 915 industry gallery on November 16 was a performance which did well in showing his such individuality. "It's okay. Do whatever you want," is not a remark that the host of a classical concert would usually say to the audience. Ji-Yong appeared wearing avant-garde boots which could make one wonder if he could step on the pedals for the piano but he starts by giving a traditional performance of Schumann/Liszt's "Widmung" which he said he has been playing for four years. He performed the poetic "Widmung" to Schumann/Liszt's "Gretchen am Spinnrade" which he played as a video played of a painting he drew while listening to the music, to Schumann/Liszt's "Der Erlkonig" to Liszt's "Consolation." At the young age of 10, Ji-Yong became the youngest pianist to ever win the New York Philharmonic Young Artists Competition and went through a period he described himself as being like "an automatic music machine, having no passion at the age of 16." And the Ji-Yong we see now has a style which is fancy and energetic but also lonely.
At the same time, he is just like any other 19-year-old, his lips breaking into a big smile when asked if he likes older women and his eyes shining brightly when asking the meaning of Korean slang words. Ji-Yong is said to create the styleboard for his own wardrobe for his recitals as well as give his input in the lights and video at the concert hall. The recital he has set as his last series of performances of the year will not only feature songs from "The Ballet," Ensemble DITTO's festival and his collaboration with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and "LISZTOMANIA," but also his performance of Verdi's opera "Rigoletto." Starting at the Ansan Arts Center in the Gyeonggi Province on November 20, he will perform at the Sori Arts Center in the North Jeolla Province on November 26 and then two days later at the Seoul Arts Center, every artist's dream concert hall.
Reporter : Jang Kyung-jin three@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Jessica Kim jesskim@
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