Born in Seoul, South Korea, Yong-Ha Jung came to the United States with his family when he was four years old. Seeking better job opportunities, his mother and father, a computer engineer in South Korea, decided to open a donut shop. They now run a mobile phone shop. And while his parents have instilled in him a strong work ethic, he has never had a job, nor has he helped out at the family business.

“My parents won’t let me get a job because they want me to focus on school and practicing,” he says.

Image by David Downs

His passion is the viola which he started playing in 5th grade.

“The viola is not as high and piercing as the violin and not as low as a cello. It’s right in between. I feel that the viola is the best resemblance of the human voice, it really makes a beautiful sound,” Yong-Ha says.

As a performer, Yong-Ha has won numerous local and national awards. He considers his greatest achievement winning the 2017 Collin County Young Artist Competition and subsequently making his orchestral debut, at age 17, at the Eisemann Centre in Richardson where he performed Bartok Viola Concerto, movement 1 with the Plano Symphony Orchestra.

He has also performed with the Lewisville Lake Symphony and is principal violist of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra.

More recently, he returned to South Korea for the first time and performed in the 2017 Great Mountains Pyeong Chang Music Festival. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he took lessons with world-renowned musicians, Hung-Wei Huang and Kazuhide Isomura.

Back in the U.S., he recently won a $10,000 scholarship as the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist with NPR Radio who flew him to Boston to perform live on the radio show From the Top. “That was my most memorable musical experience,” he says.  

Outside of music, you wouldn’t consider Yong-Ha an ordinary teenager. He doesn’t eat donuts, “I’ve grown to dislike them because I ate so many when I was younger.” He has a shoe addiction (sneakers) and his favorite subject is math. One of his greatest dilemmas, musically at least, is deciding his favorite composer; “I can’t decide between Brahms or Schubert,” he says. He doesn’t like pop music, but he does like jazz and his favorite orchestral piece is Don Juan by Strauss.

Currently he’s working on his applications for Juilliard and the New England Conservatory. He hopes to have a career in music.

“I enjoy making music for people, it’s unlike any other feeling,” he says.  

Originally published in Plano Profile‘s January 2018 issue.

Rebecca Silvestri

Rebecca Silvestri is the vice president of Sales & Marketing. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, publisher of Local Profile. In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher in London and the...