Feature
Q & A with composer Donghoon Shin
13 November 2017

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Donghoon Shin studied composition at Seoul National University with Sukhi Kang, then with Julian Anderson at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His music has been performed and commissioned by prominent orchestras, ensembles and festivals such as London Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Festival d'Automne a Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Recherche, Tong-young International Music Festival, TIMF Ensemble, Exaudi Ensemble and Plus-Minus ensemble. He is one of the winners of the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize.

Donghoon Shin's piece The Hunter's Funeral features on the Philharmonia Composers' Academy album which is available to download here.

 

 

Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?

Gyorgy Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen, George Benjamin, Julian Anderson, Unsuk Chin

 

Where and when was your first composition performed? What was it?

My first attempt at writing music was when I was 10. After hearing Schubert’s song Heidenröslein, I composed a terrible imitation and played and sang it in front of my family.

 

Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?

I worked as a librarian for 2 years in South Korea. It’s really a good place to compose. If there are not many kids in the library.

 

You're stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what would be the topic of discussion while you wait to get rescued?

It would be good if I could show my scores to Ligeti and ask for his advice. Of course, I know he is quite notorious with his tough teaching style and I’ve heard many stories from my previous teacher Unsuk Chin who studied with him. However, it would be worth showing my scores to the composer whom I admire the most. Even though he says ‘it’s all rubbish!’ as he did many times to his students.

I’d like to ask Borges how lonely he was in his late years and read something for him.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing a 10 minute orchestra piece commissioned by LSO through the Panufnik Scheme last year.

 

If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?

Perhaps writing an Synth Guitar Concerto for Pat Metheney or a double concerto for Synth Guitar and Synthesizer for Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays? Why? Because they were my musical hearos when I was a teenager.

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