Chicago soloist: ‘I used to get beat up by other kids’

Chicago soloist: ‘I used to get beat up by other kids’


norman lebrecht

April 17, 2017

The American violinist Jennifer Koh speaks movingly about growing up as the child of North Korean refugees in rural Illinois. ‘It was not fun to have eggs cracked into my hair every morning on the bus. I used to get beat up by other kids in my school, all the time.’

Jennifer began to understand her parents through reading post-Holocaust literature. ‘My Mom started her life begging for food at the side of the road.’

She speaks with remarkable candour in this new interview with Zsolt Bognar, brought to you exclusively by Slipped Disc.


  • Jack Black says:

    While Jennifer Koh is a lovely lady, she’s one of the most overrated violinists today. I was present for several performances of hers, and was amazed at the lack of control in her sound, and her incredibly poor intonation. Audiences noticed that too.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    She’s delightful. I always look forward to this series.

  • Ben says:

    Koh should contact her local enforcement immediately. United Airlines and TSA are looking for field personnel and senior leadership. Those then-kids would be perfect candidates.

  • Dan Ashcroft says:

    A great and candid interview, though I’m a little conflicted about the headline. Sure it’s a takeaway point, eye opening and heartbreaking, but its bluntness simultaneously sensationalises an otherwise small part of the interview and gives the impression that the artist’s primary intention was to reveal this point, or speak out against prejudice or something similar, when in fact the actual interview covers a lot of ground. I just feel as though the artist would not have wished to appear victimised in such a clickbait-y way.

    • Tom Moore says:

      I have to disagree. Those of us who were bullied have everything to gain when this behavior is made public. Otherwise it’s easy to think that it’s rare. It’s not.

  • Itsjtime says:

    Totally agreed. Bullying needs to be illuminated. Unfortunately America is run by a bully….
    Ms. Ho is a fine violinist with a truly individual style that makes her worth hearing. Not my personal favorite but worth the price of admission.