Chaeyoung Yeom is not afraid of a challenge. Along with performing as a soloist with the Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, the 18-year-old South County Secondary student is concertmaster of the South County orchestra, a rotating concertmaster of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, a member of a family trio and has participated in the District Orchestra and Virginia State Orchestra since her freshman year. In 2006, Yeom won a gold prize of the International Youth Piano and String Concours of Hymn, and she was selected to perform at the Carnegie Hall in New York City. She hopes to double-major in music and biology when she enters college next year. Recently, she sat down to answer some questions about herself and her music.
Number of years in the community: We came from Korea about six years ago; my mom wanted me to have a better education than we could get from Korea. She knew there were better violin teachers here.
How long have you been playing violin? About 10 years. I started when I was 5.
Family: First my dad lived in Korea because he had to earn money to get a job here. We lived separately for about three years, and he came here about three years ago. My mom is a piano teacher, and my brother plays cello.
Favorite school subjects: Music and biology.
How did you first become interested in music? I started playing violin because my mom wanted to make a family trio. We started in Germany because my mom went to Germany to study music. For the first five years, my mom forced me to practice, but now I want to play violin.
What is the role of the concertmaster in an orchestra? The first chair. It’s like a leader, like a second conductor maybe. You don’t really conduct but before the conductor comes up you tell them, “Play A,” and whenever there’s a change of music I have to tell them, or if there’s a problem I tell them before the conductor does.
Favorite place to hang out in the community? Annandale. It’s like Korean-town.
Community concerns? I go to college this year, so I’m kind of concerned about my English. I didn’t really have a hard time in high school, because it wasn’t that hard, but I think college might be more difficult. I’ve applied to all the conservatories, and a lot of universities that have good music programs like Indiana University, Rice and Northwestern.
Last book you read: It was “Macbeth” because of school. I read a lot of Korean books because it’s easier for me.
Favorite composer or piece to play: Tchaikovsky, and his violin concerto. I tried to play it, but it was too hard.
What is the hardest thing about performing? I don’t really have any problem with practicing because I wasn’t nervous, but when I am performing I worry I will forget part of the music or something like that.
What do you like most about performing? I practice a lot for the performance, and after the performance, the audience claps because they know I practiced a lot.
If you were to take a road trip anywhere in the U.S., where would you go? Las Vegas. Or California.
Personal goals: I want to double-major with biology and music. I know it’s hard but I want to try.
— Lea Mae Rice