by Sarah Steiner
The word ‘cool’ has different meanings for different people. For some, it means high-fashion style or celebrity gossip; for others, it conjures images of comic-book superheroes and TV shows. For junior Soo Min Chung, it is the violin.
“My cousin was learning to play, so I just thought it was really cool,” said Chung, who began playing at the age of 10. Before learning violin, she had played piano for several years. According to Chung, violin felt like a natural extension of what she had already learned.
Her dedication to the violin is evident. “I try to practice 1-2 hours a day. It doesn’t always happen, but I try,” said Chung. What inspired her to continue playing was more than just her initial interest; violin gives her a creative outlet. “It takes away from the stress and academic rigor of school,” she said, “and it helps me express my feelings.”
Her passion has paid off. In the 2014-2015 VIVO International Music Competition, Chung received a second-place award for her individual performance. Recently, she also earned second prize for her violin solo at the Winners’ Concert at Carnegie Hall. Additionally, Chung is a member of the New York Youth Symphony and the New Jersey Youth Symphony, and has played in the North Jersey Intermediate and High School Regional Orchestra.
Chung is currently the first-chair violinist of the WHS Chamber Orchestra. First-chair players lead their instrument sections during a piece and they often perform solos.
“I was glad that I was chosen to represent our WHS Chamber Orchestra as the [first-chair player]. I have played in a lot of different orchestras, but it’s great to lead our school orchestra because of the closeness of the group,” said Chung. “A lot of us have have been playing together for three or four years now. It’s a small group, so we all get to know each other really well.” Chung said that the sense of family in the WHS orchestra contributes to the her overall success.
Whether performing on famous stages, playing in orchestra class or practicing at home, violin has shaped Chung’s character. She said, “It gives me a little confidence in myself every day.”