Earning top honors at one of the world's leading chamber music competitions

Topic: College of Fine Arts

December 11, 2008

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Doctoral students Jooyoung Kim and Mirinae Kim are honored during the Taneev International Chamber Music Competition in Moscow. The pair earned third-place honors as a two-piano ensemble.

A trip to Moscow to compete in the prestigious Taneev International Chamber Music Competition yielded top honors for two Ball State University students.

Performing together for the first time in a competition, Jooyoung Kim and Mirinae Kim, both from Seoul, South Korea, earned third-place honors as a two-piano ensemble. Competing against more than 40 pairs, the doctoral students were also named the Outstanding Foreign Chamber Music Ensemble.

The Taneev competition, which took place Nov.16-23 at the Moscow State Tschaikovsky Conservatory, was the students' first trip to Russia; each had earned international honors for past individual competitions. Together in Moscow their performances were exceptional, reported Robert Palmer, the Ruth Weldy Mauzy and Mary Weldy Porter distinguished professor of music.

"These are two of the finest students who have ever studied at the School of Music, and that is reflected by these awards," he said. "In an ensemble, there is so much musical nuance and subtlety that is required by each player, yet the ensemble has to sound as if they are one. And that literally took hundreds of hours of practice to perfect."

Jooyoung and Mirinae began practicing their performance pieces — an entirely new repertoire — individually during the summer. In late August, they began working together, sometimes playing up to six hours each day.

"It's hard to balance study and practice," said Jooyung, adding with a laugh, that "the only way to keep up is to reduce sleep."

In advancing to the finals in Moscow, Jooyoung and Mirinae performed more than 80 minutes of intricate compositions by Taneev, Brahms, Chopin and Shostakovich in front of a panel of judges. As part of the grueling competition, the finalists were featured in two encore performances in sold-out venues.

Given the choice of playing before a packed house or under the microscope of a small jury, Jooyoung and Mirinae indicated they prefer a full venue where performances are gauged by smiles and applause rather than scorecards.

"I truly love competition, and I am looking forward to the next one," Jooyoung said. "I was more nervous during the competition, though, knowing the judges were keeping track of each note. During the final concert, we were able to relax and enjoy the music with the audience."

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