Do we have to accept the idea that classical music is dying? Young classical pianist Ji (just “Ji,” apparently) says no.
Good performers entertain the audience, while great performers make them feel. Classical pianist Ji considers it a job well done when he falls in the latter.
“It’s a performer’s job to break that wall between the audience and the performer,” he said. “I don’t go out of my way to do it, but I wear everything on my sleeve. Making myself vulnerable on stage, as a result, makes people feel something.
“If someone comes up to me after a performance and says, ‘I can’t pinpoint what it was, but I felt something,’ then that’s when I know I did my part.”
At 24 — he turns 25 on Jan. 26— Ji is doing everything he can to preserve classical music and introduce it to young audiences. But don’t get him wrong: He doesn’t think classical music is a dying breed at all.
“First and foremost, people keep saying that the industry is dwindling and facing rough times,” Ji said by phone recently while walking around his hometown of New York City. “History tells us that that mentality has been prevalent since Bach’s time.
“I think that it’s an ongoing vicious cycle where people think classical music’s popularity is on the decline,” said Ji, who performs here Sunday, making his La Jolla Music Society debut as part of its Discovery Series. “I take — I accept — the responsibility to fight and prove people otherwise. Classical music is never going away. We live in very modern world, and it’s our job to live in the moment, but it’s also our job to respect and preserve the tradition.”