There is a unique and talented musician who can be seen on the classical music stage, at a pub or bar, as well as any other venue either expected or unexpected for a virtuoso violin protégé. Actually, saying that this amazing human being is just to be seen, observed, the object of the audience’s gaze or auditory perception is to do him discredit. He is to be experienced. Hahn-Bin sees himself as the embodiment of performance art. He does not identify as Korean or American, male or female, but as completely absorbed in the performance, his body and his image enhance the depth, the intensity, of the language of classical music. The impact of his performance reaches from inside him to merge with the hearts of those privileged to be in his presence as he performs.
Born in Korea, Hahn-Bin arrived in the United States when he was 10 to study at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Apparently, after 12 year old Hahn-Bin’s American debut in California, Isaac Stern suggested he go to Julliard where he studied with Itzhak Perlman. Two legendary violinists and the most elite music school in the United States recognized the uniqueness of Hahn-Bin’s talent and potential. He made his main stage debut at Carnegie Hall last March at the young age of 22.
Hahn-Bin’s uniqueness is not restricted to his musical talent. He is a unique person who has created a unique genre of performance, a melding of classical music and visual presentation including body language, gesture, costume changes, makeup, and, sometimes, masks. While at Julliard, other students and administrators tried to force him to conform visually, but Hahn-Bin refused to sacrifice self expression, the embodiment of himself. His appearance is not a gimmick, but rather an expression of the true person combined with the voice of music through his violin. As a musician, Han-Bin does not see himself as an instrument to only reproduce the works of composers, but as a being who re-creates the music of composers so that it flows through him as a whole body experience enhanced by all aspects of who he is, honest and transparent, unique on all accounts. He is alive and lively, generating a rekindling of the spirit of classical music.
In contrast to his parent’s among others pressure to dress and act like a boy, Hahn-Bin found that visual expression through wardrobe and makeup made him feel like himself, the true person he is. He found that fashion taught him spiritual lessons of who he is and helped him know himself.
Itzhak Perlman understands Hahn-Bin as an individual, as a performance artist, as a genre of his own. Hahn-Bin says that Mr. Perlman is the only person who has loved him like that, in such a simple manner. Mr. Perlman respects Hahn-Bin as a particularly talented violinist who is also extremely individualistic, combining music, drama and the visual in a ways that are very personal so that the audience shares the experiences.
Hahn-Bin is an extreme example of lived bodily experience to the extent that the experience becomes the body and the body the experience. His spirit soars through his music and performance to become lived body intimacy with his audience.