Chaemun Im was born in Ulsan, South Korea, where he started playing the double bass at the age of 15 under the guidance of Hyunmin Jang (Ulsan Philharmonic). He continued his studies with Changho Kim and Insun Shin before joining the Korea National University of Arts under Seungho Chang. Chaemun obtained his Master’s degree from the Berlin University of the Arts, studying with Pablo Santa Cruz. His studies continued for exams at the Cologne University of Music with Veit-Peter Schüssler.
Chaemun has participated in various festivals and academies, including the Orford Music Academy in Canada, Carl Flesch Academy in Germany, Seiji Ozawa Music Academy and Ozawa Matsumoto Festival in Japan. He served as an academy member of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Kaiserslautern Theater, and has played with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Hamburg Staatsoper and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie.
Chaemun has won numerous prizes in competitions, including the Anton Rubinstein Competition and the Baden-Baden Philharmonie special award from the chief conductor.
When did you first start playing the double bass, and why?
Initially I wanted to play the clarinet in my school orchestra, but due to my height, I ended up playing the double bass. The turning point came when I met my first teacher, Hyunmin Jang, who truly changed my life.
Do you have any double bass heroes?
Philipp Stubenrauch, who is Principal at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, has had the most significant impact on my musical and personal growth during my two years at the academy and even now.
I’ve also probably watched more than 100 times the masterclass video for Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 with LSO Double Bass Matthew Gibson. And my first ever performance with the LSO was Beethoven Fifth, with Matthew!
What are you most looking forward to in the rest of the LSO’s 2023/24 season?
Becoming a member of the LSO after studying in Germany, I am excited about the upcoming April Germany tour with Sir Antonio Pappano in my first season!
If you could go back, what advice would you give your younger self as an aspiring musician?
Love music more and more. Listen to your heart’s story and believe myself rather than others’ opinions.
Are there any other interesting things about you we should know?
Aside from playing the double bass, I occasionally compose ballad music (perhaps in a K-Pop) and for fun I know some magic tricks. But I’m still an amateur compared to LSO Co-Principal Timpani Patrick King!
Also un 2012 the LSO played Tchaikovsky No 6 in South Korea, and I was there. It was my first time seeing a foreign orchestra perform. Ten years later I passed the LSO audition and started to trial with the orchestra. And in my final week on trial I played Tchaikovsky No 6 and passed the trial!
If you had to pick, what is your favourite piece of orchestral music?
‘Nimrod’ from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations is my favourite. This beautiful melody, like the Biblical Nimrod, always gives me warm courage, much like Elgar, who was tired but trusted Nimrod.
What piece of orchestral music would you recommend to someone who has never heard an orchestra before?
The fourth movement from Mahler’s Symphony No 5. It encapsulates various emotions — sadness, joy, happiness, and pain — in a short time. Once you’ve heard this beautiful melody, it touches your heart and is reminiscent of both classical and cinematic experiences.
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