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Billings students learn from international violinist before symphony concert on Saturday

Posted at 2:50 PM, Oct 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-17 08:46:32-04

BILLINGS - The Billings Symphony will perform "Fire and Ice"at the Alberta Bair Theater on Saturday.

Violinist Chee-Yun from South Korea last played in Billings more than a decade ago and will be the soloist.

She has played with symphonies around the world including in Japan, Korea, and San Francisco.

On Thursday, she worked with some young aspiring violin students.

"Music in your life is such a blessing," Chee-Yun said. "It has enhanced my life greatly."

She says she does a lot of research on music to understand what the composer wrote, the time period and where the musician lived.

"I love making those connections because it makes my experience that much more enriching," she said. "And when I have those moments when I feel that I truly feel it, genuinely feel, I think that's when it really communicates to the audience as well."

Kim Chee-Yun, who goes by Chee-Yun on stage, brought her passion for music to three students at a master's class at the MSU Billings Cisel Hall on Thursday

"Whatever you are projecting in your mind, you want to do more than 10 times at least," she said to a student about playing with energy. "I love working with young students, young people.

She learned to play the violin in South Korea, and came to the United States and studied at Juilliard.

While at the school, she says she and some other students from around the world did not know English, but spoke the universal language of music.

"Didn't speak a word of English but I wasn't the only one," Chee-Yun said. "We didn't even have to say a word to really describe what we wanted to do with music. But just to show it by just demonstrating I found it extremely comforting in a way and probably one of the reasons I started to really fall in love with music more and more ever since coming to this country."

She had students play for her and was able to guide and offer advice.

"For me to actually be playing and learning at the same time, it's just phenomenal to me," said Alex Brown, a violin student. "It's really special."

Chee-Yun plays an old violin.

"My violin is 354 years old. It was made by a wonderful Italian maker, Francesco Ruggieri and it was made in 1669," she said. "It was rumored to be buried with one of its owners, so that's why it's like there's no wear and tear. And it sounds incredible. Every time I practice it, I'm just in awe of it. And the sound that I prefer to use."

She played with the Billings Symphony in 2009 and is excited to play as the soloist on Saturday.

"I know Anne Harrigan, the conductor, for a very long time," Chee-Yun said about the Billings Symphony music director. "It's always wonderful experience working with her."

And encourages young musicians to pursue music, saying it will help in any endeavor in life.

"The more you practice, you get better and the better you get more you fall in love with it" Chee-Yun said.