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BMP Teaching Artists in Action | Minjin Chung

Boston-based cellist Minjin Chung enjoys an active career as a performer and educator. Born in South Korea, Minjin moved to the U.S. at the age of 5 and grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia where she began her musical studies. Upon falling madly in love with classical music at the age of 17, she graduated from high school a year early to focus on preparing for music school auditions. She was awarded a full tuition scholarship to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a student of Dmitry Kouzov and received her master’s degree at the New England Conservatory as a student of Natasha Brofsky.

An avid performer of new music, Minjin has premiered countless new works throughout her years as a student and in her professional career. In January, Minjin premiered a multi-track piece for 9 cellos, recording all parts, for the Multiverse Concert Series in collaboration with The Center for the Chemistry of Molecularly Optimized Networks (MONET). She is also the cellist of the Juventas New Music Ensemble, and has performed as an orchestral player with the Sinfonia da Camera, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the New World Symphony. As a soloist, she has received awards from the Richmond Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Virginia Lions Club Bland Music Competition, Virginia String Teachers Association Solo Competition, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Concerto Competition.

Maya Angelou

A Teaching Artist with BMP since January 2020, Minjin works with cello and bass students of all levels, most recently with our with Villa-Lobos and Rimsky Orchestras. This year, she also led a group of 8th grade students as part of BMP's Digital Music Composition residency at the Josiah Quincy Upper School. Their most recent music project focused on original compositions inspired by the poem "Caged Bird" written by acclaimed American poet Maya Angelou.

Minjin discusses the residency and how it has positively impacted her students, which inspires her as a musician and educator.

Can you describe the process/journey that this project has taken you and your students?

"I think in the beginning, there was a lot of just trying to get to know each other and getting accustomed to the strange new virtual learning format. Writing music can be such a vulnerable experience and it's hard to open up to people through a screen. However, I really enjoyed getting to see glimpses of their personalities throughout the course and eventually getting to a place where we could create a brand new song together!" Have you and/or your students had an "aha" moment? If so, what was it?

"Christopher Schroeder had the great idea of drawing inspiration from Maya Angelou's poem 'Caged Bird' for our song compositions. At the beginning of the course, I really wanted to focus our attention on discussing the meaning of the poem and how it relates to our own lives. During our discussions, we started talking about the moments when we "feel the most free" and I was very impressed with how mature and thoughtful their responses were, and knew that I needed to include them in our song." What has been the most inspiring part of this process for you as an educator?

"I'm really proud of the students for showing up to class despite the craziness that is happening in the world due to COVID-19. I can't imagine being in middle school right now and trying to wrap my mind around everything that's happening. It made me want to work extra hard to make sure that they were getting a positive experience during our time together." What do you hope your students will gain from this experience?

"I hope that some of the initial intimidation they felt about producing their own music has gone away. I remember when I was younger, I used to think that writing music was this mysterious, complicated process, but it doesn't have to be that way. Now there are all these great online resources like Soundtrap, and free online tutorials that take that mystery away. Hopefully after seeing the process of creating a new song from the ground up, they'll have the confidence to play around with digital composition on their own."

Upcoming, Minjin is performing with the Juventas New Music Ensemble on March 20th.

Check out information on this highly anticipated concert here, and watch a preview of what the group has to offer. Below is Minjin performing Mari Kotskyy’s piano trio “Reminiscence” with the Juventas New Music Ensemble in September:

To learn more about Minjin, we invite you to read her full biography on our Teaching Artists page.

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