Check it out
Who: Cellist Eunghee Cho performing with the Sacramento Philharmonic
When: 8 p.m. Saturday; a pre-concert talk begins at 7 p.m.
Where: Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St.
Tickets: $15-$97, www.tickets.com, (800) 225-2277 or (916) 808-5181
Cellist Eunghee Cho — a 17-year-old senior at Davis High School — is enjoying some time in the spotlight this week.
He will be the soloist with the Sacramento Philharmonic on Saturday night, performing the Cello Concerto in D Major by Franz Josef Haydn. On Monday, he was interviewed live on the air and performed on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight” program. His picture is in the newspaper. It’s the full soloist treatment.
Cho has been catching more and more people’s attention for some time now. Conductor Michael Morgan of the Sacramento Philharmonic spotted Cho last May, when Morgan was a judge at the Classical Jammies event at the Mondavi Center. Cho performed the very same Haydn concerto at that event, and came away as the first-prize winner.
Cho recalls being caught a little off-guard by that turn of events.
“I was not expecting to win the thing,” he said. “And I didn’t realize that it would lead to an invitation to perform with a professional orchestra.”
But Morgan invited Cho to play the Haydn concerto again, this time with the Sacramento Philharmonic.
In January, Cho won the annual concerto competition at Davis High School, also playing the Haydn.
Cho was born in Woodland, and grew up in Davis — he attended Redbud Montessori Preschool, Willett and Pioneer elementaries, Holmes Junior High and now Davis High. In addition to playing with the DHS Orchestra, Cho also plays with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Like many kids, Cho’s early hands-on musical experiences were at the keyboard.
“You know the Asian stereotype; all kids have to learn to play the piano,” he said.
But Cho found himself listening to albums by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. And more and more, when he imagined music in his head, it was a cello that he heard.
“By the time I was 8, I realized that the cello was what I wanted to play,” he said. He started lessons with Julie Hochman of Davis, and worked with her for eight years.
“Eunghee has a beautiful musical talent and the wisdom to know what sounds good in his playing, and what needs work,” Hochman said. “And he works hard, with clear intent and a calm and focused disposition.
“Eunghee has a bright intellect and a ready smile and adults all love him. What a great kid!”
Last year, Hochman recommended that Cho begin studying with Andy Luchansky of Sacramento State. The young man also has been learning from Richard Andaya of the Sacramento Philharmonic.
Performing with the Davis High Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra — and maintaining a full course load as a college-bound student at Davis High — doesn’t exactly leave a lot of free time in Cho’s schedule.
“It is hard to find time to read for pleasure,” he acknowledged.
But during the last three years, he did find time to participate in track and field — the 300-meter hurdles, in particular.
He’s now getting ready to graduate in June. He’s been accepted by at least two universities, and isl waiting to hear back from a few more.
“I would love to do music the rest of my life,” he said. “But I’m open to other careers. I’m also interested in becoming a physician.”
Whom does he look up to as a cellist?
“My favorite always seems to change,” Cho replied. “My favorite right now is Gautier Capuçon, mostly because I heard him perform the Schumann Cello Concerto at Davies Hall in San Francisco, and he worked with some of us at the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.
“And I like Yo-Yo Ma’s recordings — not that I play nearly as well as he does.”
Saturday’s concert by the Sacramento Philharmonic will be at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St. in downtown Sacramento. There will be a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m., followed by the performance at 8 p.m.
The program is titled “Sacramento Loves Beethoven!” and it features an orchestrated version of Beethoven’s complex “Grosse Fugue,” originally scored for string quartet, and the Symphony No. 4. The Haydn concerto fits into the pattern, given that the young Beethoven was a student of Haydn’s, albeit briefly.
The program also will feature a piece titled “Promontories” by Christopher Stark, inspired by the landscapes captured in three famous Ansel Adams photographs.
Tickets are $15-$97, available at www.tickets.com, (800) 225-2277 or (916) 808-5181.