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Festival star plays for love of music

by Michelle Porter - Sunday, May 18, 2008


Noel Chenier photo/Telegraph-Journal

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

SAINT JOHN - A classical piece by a 19th-century Jewish Polish composer played by a Korean-born local musician became the highlight of the New Brunswick Competitive Festival of Music.

For his skill, 17-year-old Edward Cho of Rothesay was named the senior star at the festival, a competition for which he spent countless hours on the piano bench learning to play the Moritz Moszkowski piece, called Caprice Espagnol.

Cho was the youngest competitor in his class at the Saint John area festival, held from April 21 to May 3.

"Most of the others were already in university," said Cho, who came to the Saint John area from Waterloo when he was 14.

This isn't his first time winning at this festival: he won two years ago. But this is the first time there is a prize attached: a chance to play with Symphony New Brunswick at the Imperial Theatre in February.

"That's really exciting," he said.

The winners at this festival and other affiliated music festivals held at the same time across the province are eligible to compete at the provincial finals hosted by the Sackville Music Festival and the Music Department of Mount Allison University in the first week of June.

But Cho won't be heading there.

"I would have to learn new songs to perform (at the provincial finals) and I don't want to. I don't have time," he said.

Time is something Cho hasn't had much of over the previous few weeks. Between preparing for exams and preparing for the festival, he has had to stick to a tight schedule.

"It was tough practising every day and working hard. But at the competition, if you practise, you succeed. That's what drew me on," he explained.

Still, he said he hasn't been much busier than his non-musical contemporaries.

"Everybody is really busy this year. Everybody is involved in a lot," he said.

It's unlikely he will be preparing for another competition anytime soon: he's finished his International Baccalaureate Grade 12 final examinations at Saint John High School and will head to University in a few months.

He won't be studying music. He's setting his sights on engineering.

"I tried to do a double major, engineering and music, but the universities said no," he explained.

He's been accepted into Engineering at both the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. To date, he hasn't decided which school he will attend.

That he excels at music but will study engineering was not unexpected or unplanned.

"When I originally started music I said 'this will be a hobby.' I play for enjoyment, not for the competition, but the competition is really the reward."

Practise - as a child that was the dreaded word.

"When I was a kid, it was tough to make myself practise. Now I don't mind practising. It's enjoyable," he said.

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