Interview: Seong-Jin Cho

As one of the most distinctive artists of his generation. Seong-Jin Cho is happy with not having to compete anymore. Now he travels the world, living his dream – and working hard.

We meet Seong-Jin Cho in the medieval castle Håkonshallen – an impressive building and the largest standing building from the Middle Ages in Norway until today.

Inside the thick stone walls the seats are lined up for tonight´s concert. Cho takes a short break to talk to us about the concert and how his life has changed in the last year, after winning the Chopin Competition 2015 – one of the world’s most prestigious competitions.

Playing Chopins ballades
It is his first time playing in Norway and he is excited to be in Bergen. Cho tells about his repertoire for the concert: – For the first half, I have chosen two composers, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg, that represent two different Viennese schools. For me, especially the last sonata by Schubert points to the future, while Alban Berg is the future. I think it will be a good combination, he says.

As the winner of the Chopin Competition, Cho will also play the four ballades by the Polish composer – some of the most challenging pieces in the standard piano repertoire.

– I will also doing a recording of the ballades this fall, with an album planned in November.

Happy not to compete anymore
He confirms that his life has changed a great deal since winning the Chopin Competition. – Before, I played maybe 20-30 concerts per year, now I get to play around 70-80. I don´t have to compete anymore – and I am actually quite happy with that, he tells us.  

Does he have any advice for the winner of the Grieg Competition? - Well, I am only 22 years old myself, so I don´t think I am in the position to give advices just yet, he laughs.

Embarking on a world-class career
When leaving Bergen his next destination is Paris, where he lives. Then he will be going to Tokyo, back to Hamburg for recording the aforementioned album, before heading to the United States for a number of concerts in October and November. – My dream has always been to play for audiences across the world. So I have to continue to work hard, he says.