유엔세계인협회 저널(Centerpoint Now)
필립스 아카데미 엔도버
THE POWER OF PERSONAL EFFORT
INSIGHTS FROM YOUNG COMPOSER
Sung Yup Jung
I SPENT MY CHILDHOOD IN KOREA, one hour outside of Seoul. My first introduction to diversity through travel. I remember going to the Mozart House in Austria and being amazed by the 16th and 17th century buildings – I had never seen such architecture in my life – but what marked me the most were the world’s languages. Language is often a differentiating factor. For example, the way people speak in Korea is completely different from the way people communicate in America. When my parents speak to me in Korean, I automatically act differently than I would in an English-speaking environment. In other instances, languages show the commonalities among cultures. When I was in Turkey, a guide explained that a certain word in Turkish corresponds with Korean. Even though the two countries are thousands of miles apart, they share common linguistic roots. This led me to think about anthropology and linguistics, and how cultures of the world are so different, yet in some ways the same.
It’s true that music is a universal language, because even when we can’t communicate through words, we can still communicate through music – I experienced this personally when I came to the United States. I started playing the piano in Korea, when I was three years old. Coming to the US at the age of ten was frightening, because everybody was speaking a language that was foreign to me. It was hard and tiring to translate my thoughts, which were in Korean, into English, but the most difficult aspect was the cultural lingo. Although people were interested in my language, background and culture, I disliked the way they differentiated others through race.
I didn’t want to be called specifically ‘Korean’, just as I don’t want to be labeled ‘American’. I’m not saying that we should totally get rid of race – we should recognize our differences, but we shouldn’t abuse them. Joining the orchestra called Unaccompanied Minors. We focus on playing contemporary pop and rock music – for example, we performed the top ten songs of 2009. There needs to be more bridging of pop and rock with classical. A lot of people I talk to tend to ‘dislike’ classical music, without having ever been exposed to it.
I always had music in the back of my head and enjoyed coming up with new melodies, but I wasn’t able to bring it to the front, until it was like a circuit connected and I began to compose. Nature inspires me. When I was living in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, which is known for its mountains, floods, and thunderstorms, the image of a person extending his or her arms to embrace the rain, inspired me to write a piece called ‘Into My Arms’. Having my compositions played at Carnegie Hall was breathtaking – I still can’t believe that my work was performed there. My current experiment is to bridge twelve-tonal music with non-tonal, but I’m not going to go into detail here...
Meditation is important to me as well. Fortunately, my school has a meditation room, and I’ve come to find a small number of people who enjoy meditating. I like to think of myself as a regular student. I believe that if you try, you can do anything you want. When you listen to a basic ensemble, you take it for granted that everyone plays well, but when you’re in the ensemble, having to communicate either with the conductor or with other members of the ensemble, you realize what hardship and effort it involves. Circumstances matter, but above all, it’s personal effort that makes the difference.
Born in 1994, by the age of 10 Sung Yup Jung (Sam) had composed 20 short pieces. His compositions have been presented by the New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra, in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium. He is a student at Phillips Academy Andover, MA.
Photograph of Sung Yup Jung by Vivian Gordon