Hyung-ki Joo was born. He is British, but looks Korean, or the other way around, or both. He started piano lessons at the age of eight and a quarter, and two years later won a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School. There, he discovered that he was among geniuses and child prodigies and was convinced he would be kicked out of the school. In the end, he was never kicked out, but teachers and fellow students, such as his future duo partner, Aleksey Igudesman, did kick him around in various parts of his anatomy, making the future of any offspring rather bleak. No matter how difficult those seven years at the school may have been, it only strengthened his love of music, and a while after graduation, he was chosen by Yehudi Menuhin himself to perform as soloist for his eightieth birthday concert at the Barbican Hall, London.
You can see a tiny clip of them rehearsing on Hyung-ki Joo’s YouTube Channel: Joo rehearses Beethoven with Menuhin– (Weblink: Joo rehearses Beethoven with Menuhin)
As a composer his works have been performed by orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, such as the New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, Komische Oper Berlin Ensemble, Meta4 String Quartet, Tine Thing Helseth, Natasha Paremski, and recorded by artists such as Shani Diluka, Sun Hee You, and the Ahn Piano Trio. His music is published by Universal Edition and Modern Works.
His love for chamber music has shaped Hyung-ki Joo’s musical career, leading to cooperations with artists that include Renaud Capuçon, Michael Collins, Martin Fröst, Janine Jansen, Mischa Maisky, Julian Rachlin, Belcea Quartet, and members of the Alban Berg Quartet and Quatuor Ébène. In 2001, he formed a piano trio with violinist Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne and cellist Thomas Carroll. Their seven years together culminated in a critically acclaimed recording of the Brahms and Bridge Piano Trios. His love also of lieder repertoire have led to collaborations with singers such as Dame Felicity Lott, Valentina Nafornita, Julien Prégardien, and future projects include collaborations with singers Mojca Erdmann, Asmik Grigorian, Nadine Sierra, and Pretty Yende,
Joo is eternally thankful for all his teachers, for their time, generousity, and sharing the gift of their knowledge that has contributed to his musical education, many of whom went beyond the call of duty to help and support him along his musical journey- teachers that include Peter Norris, Seta Tanyel, Nina Svetlanova, Richard Goode, Oleg Maisenberg, Ferenc Rados, and for composition, theory and counterpoint, Malcolm Singer, Simon Parkin, Nils Vigeland, and Joel Feigin.
Alongside his piano performances, Hyung-ki Joo takes on various musical roles and develops special projects that present him as orchestra leader, communicator, arranger and composer. A passionate communicator, Hyung-ki Joo works to inspire the next generation of musicians. In his “Beyond the Practice Room” workshops, he places the focus on the joy of making music and encourages participants to explore other directions beyond “classical” performance. He loves to work regularly with students, youth orchestras and youthful ensembles.
In 2004 Hyung-ki Joo and violinist Aleksey Igudesman founded the duo IGUDESMAN & JOO. Together they have brought humour, theatricality, and fresh perspectives on classical music performances to concert halls and audiences of all ages. Major orchestras have commissioned the duo to create new works, and musicians such as Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova, Yuja Wang, have all asked them to create shows for them. They have worked with actors such as John Malkovich, and Sir Roger Moore (in several projects for UNICEF), and are authors of the book, Rette die Welt (Save the World), published by “edition-a”.
He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from Manhattan School of Music- his Alma Matera- and he is a mentor for graduates and students in their last year at the Yehudi Menuhin School. His personal claim for his highest achievement is that he is the fastest tooth-brusher in the world. Or so he foolishly thinks.