Violinist Danny Koo, ‘idol of classical music’, looks to K-pop for ideas on how to build connections with fans

Fans share every little detail of his life, from his personality type and his favourite musicians to his tattoos and all of his events since the start of his music career in Korea in 2016. His classical concerts often draw large audiences of young people.

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“Thanks to the Home Alone show, I think I’m meeting more and more people from all walks of life. That’s really cool,” he says ahead of the release of his album, Moonlight.

Koo says appearing on the popular reality show is one of the many things he is doing to break down the barriers separating classical music from the public.

“There is a stereotype that classical music is conservative and difficult. I’m constantly trying to break that stereotype. I’ve always wanted to be a bridge between the classical world and the public.”

The violinist says classical musicians should emulate K-pop’s success story, adding that constant communication with fans could be the key to doing so.

“Up until now, musicians regard themselves as ones who speak with their final products – performances at concerts. They have been hesitant and even afraid of showing practice sessions.

“But think of K-pop stars. I think the reason they’re so famous is because of live-streaming services. They share videos of their training with fans,” he says. “So I thought that if we, classical artists, just learn a little bit from that, things would be different. I think we’re living in a multi-platform world where communication is key.”
Koo says appearing on popular reality show Home Alone is one of the things he is doing to break down the barriers separating classical music from the public. Photo: Instagram/@dannykoo_boom

Koo made up his mind to become a violinist after realising the power of music while attending an art camp and he started taking professional lessons at the age of 16.

There, looking at his Korean and Chinese classmates who started playing violin much earlier, Koo at times regretted not having started at a younger age.

“When I first went to music school, I was so shocked. Especially students from Korea and China, they were on a different level because they had received so much training. I was so scared at first, but looking back, it actually helped boost my ‘hungry mentality’,” he says.

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Before the school’s practice rooms opened, he arrived at 6.30am every morning and started practice an hour earlier thanks to the help of a security guard he befriended.

“My mindset at the time was that no matter who I was with – whether with my professor, my junior, my senior or my friend – I should be the one who can proudly say that I lived the day to the fullest. This mindset helped me overcome the fear and made me take music as a profession.”

“I’m a ‘routine man’ and so is Yoo. He has been so for such a long time and remains at the top of the Korean entertainment industry. He shows that keeping up a routine and hard work pay off in the end,” he says.

He adds that Jo, a legendary soprano who continues to expand her musical boundaries, is the one he likes the best as a musician for her advice and guidance, and recounts an occasion when she motivated him to take on a project that he was hesitant about.

“She said we are not just musicians, but entertainers, so we need to be versatile,” he says. “She also told me that this is something that only I could do and I was so overwhelmed and grateful.”

Koo says his newest EP, Moonlight, launched on April 10, is a musical reimagining of the magical feeling of a moonlit night.

Koo says classical musicians should emulate K-pop’s success story. Photo: Instagram/@dannykoo_boom

In collaboration with jazz pianist Cho Yoon-seung, Koo composed or wrote lyrics for three out of four classically influenced pieces on the album.

“Moonlight” and “Twilight Waltz” are concertos for violin and piano, while “Love Letter” and “Just You” are songs in which he sings.

“All four are sweet and warm. There are two songs and two instrumental pieces. The two instrumentals are my first attempts at the new age genre.

“In ‘Love Letter’, I sang and there is no violin for the first time,” he says. “It’s diverse and jazzy, I would say. After all, Cho is a jazz master and working with him, the chord progressions tend to go more towards jazz.”

As for the idea of a violinist singing, Koo says he felt some pressure and self-doubt at first.

“There are so many people who sing better than me and I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But people around me told me that singing is not just about technique and that I should sing because I have this special tone.

“When I started singing, I realised instantly the power of lyrics in the songs. I thought, why not do it if I can do it and have the opportunity? It’s so much fun.”


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