Jaeyoung Chong with his cello. Photo: Courtesy of Jaeyoung Chong
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Cello and Russian composers highlighted at classical show

The University of Ottawa is about to be invaded by Russians—Russian composers, that is. Leading the charge is cellist Jaeyoung Chong, who, with the U of O Symphony, is giving a classical performance at St. Joseph’s Church on Oct. 7.

Chong, a fourth-year music student at the U of O, has been playing the cello for 13 years, and has taken part in various youth orchestras and solo works. He won the University of Ottawa Concerto Competition last school year, and his first-place finish granted him the chance to perform with the official U of O Symphony.

Chong, whose family emigrated from South Korea to give him and his brother a chance to pursue their passion in music, said that he chose the U of O for his undergrad because of the amazing faculty and the smaller size, compared to larger schools like the University of Toronto or McGill.

“You get to really know everyone and you really get to know the story of everyone around you, so I feel with that you can be a lot closer to people and those people that you will know can be connections and close friends,” Chong explained. 

He also drove home the importance of the faculty’s members, who serve as professors, mentors, and inspiration—basically, Chong said, they act like a second set of parents.

Chong also praised the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), an organization that has been very supportive of the students and their music. Many professors in the Faculty of Music play in NACO.

Chong’s upcoming performance will open with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s intense “1812 Overture,” and then move to Chong’s solo piece with orchestra, Dmitry Kabalevsky’s “Cello Concerto No. 1,” before closing with Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5.”

“It will be quite the emotional roller coaster for everyone in the audience,” Chong said.

Equally exciting is the conductor for the evening, Alain Trudel, a highly sought after conductor and one of the world’s best trombonists. Chong had previously played under him in the National Youth Orchestra.

“In 2012, when I was playing in the orchestra, I was sitting in the back and just admiring what he was doing. And now I get to perform solo with him, so that collaboration that I’ve had with him was such a fantastic experience,” Chong said.

But Chong isn’t just doing this performance to show off his skills. For him, it’s all about the beauty of the music he’s playing.

“Me personally, my main passion is to appreciate and share music with everyone in the audience, and that’s going to be my goal for this concert as well,” Chong said, opening up about the reason why he loves performing music in the first place.   

But Chong doesn’t get a break after his upcoming performance, and hints that he has big plans for the future.

“As soon as I’m done with this concert, I need to start preparing for pre-screen recordings to send off to schools in the States,” he said.

“It’s just that journey of doing everything in the world, so maybe in the end, when I’m successful in the career path I’m taking, I get to share that passion with everyone in the world.” 

The show starts at 8pm at St.Joseph’s Church on Oct. 7. Admission is by donation and the performance is open to the public.