Why Did Violinist Clara-Jumi Kang Model for a Cosmetics Brand?

      December 09, 2011 07:49

      Clara-Jumi Kang

      Clara-Jumi Kang, the German-born Korean violinist who won the prestigious Sendai International Violin Music Competition and International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, was recently chosen to model for a domestic cosmetics brand.

      The 24-year old said she accepted the offer in order to "purchase a new bow." A professional violinist needs a specific bow to play works by Mozart and Shostakovich, and a good bow costs more than W60 million (US$1=W1,131).

      Kang, who spoke with the Chosun Ilbo in downtown Seoul on Wednesday, said, "But my real concern is to get my hands on a top-quality Stradivarius or a Guarneri within three years."

      Kang currently uses a 1683 Stradivarius formerly owned by renowned violinist Joseph Gingold, who died in 1995. Gingold, who created the quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 1982, allowed the winner of the competition to use his prized violin for a period of four years.

      The instrument costs W3.5 billion and Kang must return it in three years' time. It is not easy for a musician in their 20s to afford a violin that costs millions of dollars, which is a major concern for young violinists worldwide.

      For many, the only realistic alternative is to borrow one. In Korea, the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation and the Samsung Foundation of Culture rent out instruments to rising talents. Kang won the Indianapolis competition using a Guadagnini loaned out by the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation. She returned it after winning the contest.

      The problem is that supply cannot keep pace with demand. The Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation possesses eight violins, one cello and six pianos, while the Samsung Foundation of Culture owns two violins, six violas and one cello. Due to the extremely limited collections, the musicians must undergo an evaluation of their skills every three years to see if they are qualified to borrow them.

      Experts agree that this support provided by domestic cultural foundations plays a huge role in the achievements of Korean musicians at international competitions. But they say more needs to be done to address the need for instruments so that artists continue to build their careers.

      Song Jae-kwang, a violinist and music professor at Ewha Womans University, said, "In some countries, major businesses and even philanthropists purchase several instruments and often loan them out permanently to musicians."

      "We need to look for ways to loan out instruments so that talented young musicians can reach new heights."

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