The Great Falls Symphony opens the 2017-18 Silver Series season with Guitar Master, featuring classical guitarist, Jiji. Jiji is the winner of the 2016 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, and Maestro Grant Harville makes his debut as music director for the Sept. 30 concert.
Jiji is an adventurous 24-year-old artist based out of New York. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, she got her musical start at the age of nine. A recent news release from the Great Falls Symphony featured a short interview with the artist.
What inspired you to pursue classical guitar?
This is actually a pretty funny story. When I was a kid I was really into rock music. My dad exposed me to a lot of music, art and culture, and I fell in love with bands like Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and Deep Purple. I wanted to play electric guitar and be a rock artist. My dad took me to a music store in Chicago, where we were living at the time. While we were there, he decided he’d first get me a classical guitar so that I could learn the basics before buying me an electric guitar. After that, I really fell in love with the classical guitar, and he never did end up buying me an electric. In fact, I just bought my first electric guitar last year!
When I was ten, my family moved back to South Korea, and there I really started to focus on my studies in classical guitar. The Korea National University of Arts has a collegiate program where, if you pass the generic entrance exams and an audition, you get to attend college no matter how old you are. I was fourteen when I was accepted. It was really challenging to be around people who were all much older than me. I didn’t make any friends, but it was still a really good and experience.
A year later, I came back to America after being one of two guitarists who was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to work with my mentor, Jason Vieaux. I had met him a year prior when he visited South Korea for a masterclass and concert. Classes at Curtis were very challenging. I had to learn advanced essay writing when I was fifteen years old with only a basic knowledge of English. I had to be really diligent with my schoolwork and my music studies in order to succeed, but I had an amazing time doing it.
What types of music do you like to listen to?
I really like to listen to all types of music. I actually have been doing a lot of work as a deejay here in New York, and I mix a lot of electronic, dance and pop music. I love everything from very early music to contemporary, experimental music. My favorite guitarist is my mentor and teacher, Jason Vieaux. But I also really love Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple — he is amazing! Prince is such a charismatic stage-winner too. He is really fun to watch and he’s such a convincing and talented performer.
What’s ahead for you?
My five-year plan is such a tough question to answer. The work visa process is really scary to me because you never know for sure how that will work out. My hope is that I can continue to live in New York, collaborate with my amazing colleagues and perform as a concert artist.
Jiji takes the stage with the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Grant Harville, starting at 7:30 pm. She plans several community engagements prior to the concert, including a visit to C.M. Russell High School and an informal lecture and demonstration at Great Falls College Montana State University.
The Silver Series continues Sunday, Oct. 29, with Halloween Spooktacular, a fun family event. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 25.
Single admission tickets for Jiji’s concert are available at the Mansfield Box Office, by phone at 406-455-8514 or online at gfsymphony.org. Single tickets are $31-$37 for adults. Students 20 and under are $5 advance or $10 at the door.
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Traci Rosenbaum at 791-1490. Follow her on Twitter @GFTrib_TRosenba.
What: Guitar Master Jiji
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30
Where: Mansfield Theater
Cost: Adults $31-$37; students $5-$10
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