Richard Yongjae O'Neill © Sangwook Lee

[INSIDER GUIDE] The Seoul That Violist Richard Yongjae O'Neill Loves
Over the past dozen years, violist Richard Yongjae O'Neill has spent one season in Seoul. Born in the state of Washington and based in New York, O'Neill has been visiting Seoul every June since 2007 as a member of his ensemble, DITTO. We asked him his favorite places in the city.
"Seoul is the city of my family past and, also the city of the future. I am constantly amazed at how quickly it changes and can’t wait to see where it goes."
Violist, Richard Yongjae O'Neill

Han River © Shutterstock

Best place to run?
Han River, especially in the early morning before dawn.
Address Jamwon Hangang Park, Jamwon-ro 221-124, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art © Leeum

Place for the inspiration?
I love going to the art museums in Seoul. Leeum and MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) are fantastic and I have seen so many great exhibitions from my favorite artists.

∙ Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Phone +82-2-2014-6900

∙ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
Samcheong-ro 30, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Phone +82-2-3701-9500

Jungsik © Jungsik

Best restaurant?
I love Bud Namu Jip near Bang Bang Sageori (Intersection).  It’s my favorite restaurant. I also love Jungsik, in Apgujeong.

∙ Bud Namu Jip, Seocho-dong Flagship Location
Address Hyoryeong-ro 434, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Phone +82-2-3473-4167

∙ Jungsik
Address 11 Seolleung-ro, 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone +82-2-517-4654
Favorite café?
I support Starbucks as a native of Seattle, and that they hire handicapped employees. They are a great company. I also frequent 'Long Bread' in Seorae Village for meetings and interviews. It's a bakery cafe run by actor Kang Seok-woo.
Address Long Bread, Seorae Village, 28 Sapyeong-daero 22-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Phone +84-2-3477-1255
Place for shopping?
I love Kyobo Bookstore. Whenever I can, I also enjoy going to 'Daihan Music' and 'Pungwoldang,' places that have classical music albums and sheets. For clothes, anywhere in Apgujeong is great, especially the DIOR atelier, and Galleria or Hyundai department stores.
Address Kyobo Bookstore, Gangnam, 465 Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Mt. Namsan © Shutterstock

Best view?
I love a late night walk along the Han River, which is so nice.  Also the top of Namsan Mountain is beautiful at night.
Address Namsan Seoul Tower, 126 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsangu, Seoul 
Must-have souvenir?
A few years ago I purchased some handmade brass bowls at Namdaemun Market.  They have been the best purchase ever, and I enjoy serving dinner guest with them.
Address 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
리처드 용재 오닐

리처드 용재 오닐

Richard Yongjae O'Neill © Jono Lee

About Insider: Journey for Richard Yongjae O'Neill and Ensemble DITTO
We often throw around the term 'idol' to describe popular celebrities. That word doesn't seem to go well with classical music, but violist Richard Yongjae O'Neill and Ensemble DITTO may be an exception. O'Neill is such a huge name in Korea that he is almost synonymous with viola. DITTO was formed in 2007 with O'Neill as its central figure. It's a project group of young, marketable and gifted artists. The group set out to put classical music, in particular chamber music, on the map in Korea, where the genre has struggled to generate much interest. Ensemble DITTO has been introducing the Korean audience to a wide range of chamber repertoires and young artists each year. Since 2009, the group has been organizing 'DITTO Festival' to further promote classical music. O'Neill has doubled as the violist and the artistic director for the festival. He has performed familiar pieces and has also played new compositions by contemporary artists. Ensemble DITTO has sold out a series of performances at Seoul Arts Center's Concert Hall, a rare feat for chamber music that earned them the moniker, 'Classical Idols.' The ensemble will wrap up its 12-year journey this year. O'Neill is celebrating his 15th year in classical music and the final season with Ensemble DITTO in Korea.
Q. What's it been like to be the artistic director at DITTO?
A. Being the AD for DITTO has been one of my greatest gifts as an artist to have led the project. Having the support of the audience and being able to program these concerts was a great privilege.

Q. Ensemble DITTO recital - The Chronicles of DITTO’s last piece is Brahms : Piano Quartet No.1 In G Minor Op.25 - Ⅳ.Rondo Alla Zingarese. It's quite an intense finish to the performance. Is the intensity of the music one of the reasons why you chose Brahms as the last piece?
A. The Brahms g minor quartet has been an obsession of mine since I was a boy. I always wanted to play it. It is fitting that is now on the very end of the program. It is an extraordinary piece, full of fire and passion.

Q. Do you have performances with Ensemble DITTO that stand out in your memory?
A. There are many great memories. My first season in 2008 playing Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Dong Hyek. White Night’s program with Shostakovich and Prokofiev’s quintets. Our concerts with Gidon Kremer and Mischa Maisky.

Q. You will perform with Jeremy Denk to commemorate the 15th anniversary of your Korean debut at the DITTO Festival. What's it like to work with him?
A. Jeremy is a true genius, not only as a musician but as a human being.  His writing is extraordinary and he is a sensitive and dear friend. I respect him highly and am lucky to know him. This concert will be a great privilege as well.

Q. Since 2009, you've been coming to Seoul every June. Where will you be next June?
A. That will be a surprise! I definitely will take the opportunity to go somewhere that I haven’t been!

Q. When I think of you, words like "challenge" and "empathy" come to mind. How do you want to challenge yourself in the future?
A. Being the best musician that I can be is always the biggest challenge, and I hope that I continue to have the opportunity to improve. There are many new projects on the horizon.
2019 DITTO Festival
Dates June 12~29, 2019
Place Seoul Arts Center, Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center
June 2019 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Cooperation: Lee Donghyuk (Illust)

Where to stay?

  • 트위터로 공유
  • 페이스북으로 공유
  • 핀터레스트로 공유
  • 링크URL 공유