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At 19, violinist In Mo Yang is competing to be the best

Neda Navaee

Age: 19

Hometown: Born in Indonesia of South Korean parents, Yang moved to South Korea at age 2 and was raised in Seoul. He came to the United States in August 2013 to study at New England Conservatory.

Think of: After Yang won the Boston Classical Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition this month, a financial supporter of the initiative, Alexander Kopp, said, “I think we’ve found our next Joshua Bell.” Yang’s teacher at NEC, Miriam Fried, calls him a unique talent. “His drive is amazing, but he is a very gentle person, very lyrical and tender in his playing in addition to having the power to play in front of an orchestra.”


What caught our eye: In addition to winning Boston Classical Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition — and soloing for the orchestra last week — Yang was second at the 2014 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists and fourth at the 2012 Joachim International Violin Competition in Germany. In October, Yang took first prize in the 2014 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition held in New York.

Lightbulb moment: Playing violin since the age of 5, Yang calls his path “gradual. . . . There wasn’t a moment that I really felt this is going to be my whole life, but the more I knew about music, the more I loved it.”

Biggest thrill: “Playing in a senior center near our school for just a few patients and homeless people. I never played for those kinds of people and really felt I was communicating with my whole heart. It made me rethink what I have to be as performer. I’ve played in a really big hall in Seoul for 2000 people, and that’s really exciting, but this was something new. They didn’t know much about classical music, but we communicated, and they loved it, and I realized music is for everyone.”


Biggest surprise: Yang says minutes after he first landed in America, he found an e-mail from his father. “He had never sent me a sincere letter before then. [He said] he appreciated me for being such a good son and artist, and that he hoped I can be successful in this new environment and explore new things. The letter brought me to tears. Whenever I’m frustrated and tired and don’t know what’s ahead, I look at the letter, and it gives me so much energy and hope, and that really guided me in this life in Boston. I’m very grateful.”

Inspired by: “My parents — I feel their unconditional love even at this great distance. And my teacher, Miriam Fried. She is very supportive and I learn so much from her, from her playing, the way she behaves to her students. We know about music but also how to live as musicians, build up our own philosophies.”

Aspires to: “I aspire to be a very human violinist, to get as close as possible to the core of human expression. That will make me embrace a broader audience. I want the audience to feel what I feel.”

What people should know: “I never feel satisfied. I always think there are more things that I don’t know, a whole new world ahead of me. I try to get inspiration from other fields like art, literature. I try to treasure every moment. I have a few [friends] that are very close and I learn a lot from them, different perspectives. And I like sports. I play soccer every weekend with a small crew from NEC.”


Coming soon: Yang plays a solo recital Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. in NEC’s Pierce Hall, in preparation for Italy’s Paganini Competition.

Links: His performance from the Menuhin competition can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsbe2wFBPs8

Karen Campbell can be reached at karencampbell4@rcn.com.