Composer and pianist, Hyung-ki Joo was born. He is British, but looks Korean, or the other way around, or both. He showed his first signs of a sense of comedy whilst nappy-changing and shortly thereafter, showed his love for music when his parents would find him at the record store listening for hours to everything from Mozart to Bee Gees. (Although the two are never to be confused, Hyung-ki is often heard singing "Don Giovanni" in the style of Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees).
He started piano lessons at the age of eight and a half 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 school, year after year. In fact, he was not kicked "out" but kicked "around" by teachers and fellow students, such as Aleksey Igudesman. After these painful experiences, Joo invented a new type of piano playing known as "Karate Piano". No matter how difficult his years at the school may have been, it only strengthened his love of music, and he also realised that the world of classical music had little to do with the spirit in which the music was created and so began dreaming of a way to bring this great music to a wider and newer audience– a dream which has been realised through his shows with his duo, IGUDESMAN & JOO,such as A Little Nightmare Music and AND NOW MOZART. To date, the duo's clips on YouTube have been viewed over 30 million times and they have collaborated with artists as diverse as Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Gidon Kremer, John Malkovich, and Sir Roger Moore. Later this year, the duo will perform BIG Nightmare Music with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic.
In 1999, he co-created DUEL, his first show combining music with comedy and theatre, with the cellist, Laurent Cirade, from the French group, "Le Quatuor",. In 2001, he arranged and recorded Fantasies and Delusions- Billy Joel's classical album of solo piano pieces for Columbia/Sony Classical Records. The album reached no.1 on the Billboard Classical Charts for 18 weeks. In that same year, he co-founded his piano trio with violinist, Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne and cellist, Thomas Carroll. Their seven-years together culminated in a series of concerts at the Wigmore Hall, after winning the prestigious International Parkhouse Chamber Music Competition.
Hyung-ki has small hands, (but only hands small), and therefore finds some piano repertoire quite difficult to play, such as the music of Rachmaninov, who had Big Hands. Anyway, even with this small hindrance, he happily performs chamber music, recitals, concertos, his own compositions, and anything else that includes a piano part. Besides composing, performing, laughing, brushing his teeth at breakneck speed, and writing comedy, Joo's passion for teaching has led him to develop his own personal style of workshop: Beyond the Practice Room.
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Hyung-ki Joo is the perfect chamber-music pianist, one who is perfectly balanced with his colleagues and who has an imaginative response to the music he plays without drawing attention to himself."
I find him an unusual type of talent who does not belong to the endless row of successful or unsuccessful 'piano key hunters'."
I wanted a true virtuoso, someone who knows how to express all the nuances, who intuitively understands all the dynamics, and who can deliver a bravura performance."
Sensitivity and virtuosity aplomb"
Joo brought a freshness of approach…That joy in communication is all too rare in professional music-making."
His excellent command of the instrument is put at the service of a fine sensibility and a quite personal voice. In addition, he plays with a certain rhythmic freedom and an individual style I find very refreshing. He is definitely a musician to be heard"
Stunning to hear in concert- he is a virtuoso"