By Han Eun-jung
A career as a pianist is not one Yiruma had expected to walk down.
"I had always thought I would perhaps become a songwriter, but that too of course, if I was lucky. I had hoped to write songs but never did I think that I could become a pianist,” Yiruma said when he spoke to The Korea Times last Friday.
Pianist Yiruma talks about his last concert, in an interview with The Korea Times. /Korea Times photo By Shim Hyun-chul
Which is why he looks backs on the past five years, during which he has recorded, toured and grown to become a premier performer in the local contemporary instrumental scene, and considers himself very lucky to have received the support and love he has.
Born in Seoul, Korea in 1978, Yiruma moved with his family to England where he spent most of his childhood and studied music at King’s College London.
Since debuting in 2001 with "Love Scene," Yiruma has gone on to release successful follow-up albums like "First Love," "From the Yellow Room," "Destiny of Love” and, most recently, last year’s "Poemusic."
Yiruma is spending his last days on two projects he will wrap up before he starts his two-year compulsory military service in the summer.
The first of the two being recording pieces that go to make up the original soundtrack of KBS miniseries "Spring Waltz.”
"Spring Waltz,” the final installment of producer Yun Suk-ho’s season-themed dramas that included "Autumn in My Heart, "Winter Sonata” and "Summer Scent,” revolves around a pianist studying in Austria who rekindles a relationship with his childhood sweetheart.
Yiruma said that he felt a bond between the drama’s main character and himself, which made the process of composing the pieces and recording special.
"Just as Jae-ha longs for his home country in Austria, I too often felt homesick. I felt I shared a great deal with the character on a personal level,” he said.
Adding that such a connection enabled him to draw from his own experiences, that and his own fondness for the season of spring in particular.
"The score will capture more than the brightness and cheer people most often come to think of when they think of spring. Because you see, spring has more than just one facet," he said.
"I tried to capture the many colors of spring."
As for his upcoming concert, just as the title ‘Yiruma’s Same Old Story’ suggests, Yiruma said that he will be going through just that.
"The same old story, which means that I will play for the audience the songs for which I have received their support. I think of it as my time to give back to my fans," he explained.
Out of popular demand, Yiruma’s management agency, Stomp Music, is setting up dates to additional concerts that will be staged in six other cities, although the dates have yet been decided.
Yiruma, who gave up his English citizenship to fulfill his military duties as a Korean, said that he is sincerely looking forward to his time in the army.
As a part of the Navy’s special promotions unit he understands that his duties will include playing as well as teaching music at special functions before groups at a distance from the arts.
"As a Korean, serving in the army is something that I feel I am obligated to do. And as a musician, I feel that it will offer me with new experiences that will help me in shaping my career as a pianist and composer," he said.
Yiruma’s Same Old Story
When: 7 p.m. on April 8
Where: Sejong Center for the Performing Arts
How much: 20,000-70,000 won
More info: 1588-7890 or (02) 543-1601 (English assistance provided)