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Pianist Im Sung-mi honored to ‘breathe with audience’

Pianist Im Sung-mi took the stage for the 711th edition of “The House Concert” at Daehangno, central Seoul, on Monday.

“The House Concert” is a small-scale music project run by artistic director Park Chang-soo. Seated on the floor of the venue, concertgoers are able to experience music in a different way, feeling the vibrations of the wooden floor.

“It reminds me of the Bargemusic hall in New York, for which my late husband Bae Ik-hwan had long been an artistic director. It is an honor for me to perform where I can breathe with the audience,” Im said.
Pianist Im Sung-mi (Courtesy of the pianist)
Pianist Im Sung-mi (Courtesy of the pianist)

During Monday’s concert, Im performed Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 9 in D Major, Chopin’s Waltz No. 3 in A Minor, No. 7 in C sharp Minor and Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Prokofiev’s Toccata in D Minor and Schumann’s “Kreisleriana.”

The Daegu-born pianist started to play the piano at the early age of 3, more than 50 years ago.

“My mother was my first piano teacher and she taught me my whole life. It was my mother who suggested that I play the piano. My little sisters play the cello and the violin. My father studied singing. We are a musical family,” she said.

To this day, she is 100 percent sure about her career as a pianist.

“I never thought of a path other than the piano. I feel that it was my destiny to play the instrument. I have absolutely no regrets,” she said.

However, Im revealed it has not always been easy.

“Since young, I had difficulties playing the piano with my small hands. It was something to overcome, something that other performers did not experience difficulties with,” she said. “But this disadvantage led me to become a better performer and teacher.”

Im currently teaches chamber music at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She had also lectured at Yonsei University in Seoul.

To her students and other young musicians, she said, “I hope music can be more than a tool for entering a university or to have a job, allowing people to find honesty and sincerity in music and ultimately helping them find peace.”

In October, Im will hold a solo piano recital at Indiana University in remembrance of her late husband. Bae, a violinist, died at the age of 58 in July 2014.

By Im Eun-byel (