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A photo of CCM alumnus Maurice Ellis.

CCM Grad and Adjunct Faculty Member Junghyun James Cho Wins First Prize at International Conducting Competition

CCM alumnus and adjunct faculty member Junghyun James Cho (MM Orchestral Conducting, 2013; AD Opera Coaching, 2014) received top honors at the 2015 Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition, which was held Rousse, Bulgaria, this September.

The biennial competition is specifically designed to test an opera conductor's agility with text and language, as well as the baton. The competition utilizes the full forces of a professional opera company, from the first round onward. This year's repertoire included Puccini's Tosca, Verdi's Rigoletto and Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville).

As part of his first prize award, Cho received five guest conducting engagements with Bulgaria's State Opera Rousse, Serbia's National Opera Theater Belgrade, Albania's Opera and Ballet Theater Tirana, the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, and Argentina's San Juan Symphony Orchestra.

Cho's success comes as no surprise to CCM Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies Mark Gibson.

"Rigoletto was one of the competition works," Gibson explains. "In a gratifying twist, it's also what he auditioned on when he first came to CCM. He played and sang the second act from memory. An extraordinary talent and a fabulous person, Junghyun is finally getting his due. No one is more deserving."
CCM alumnus and adjunct faculty member Junghyun James Cho.

CCM alumnus and adjunct faculty member Junghyun James Cho.

Cho has served as music director, pianist and opera coach for more than 50 different operas. His conducting career started in his native Korea in 2007, when he conducted the Seoul National University Orchestra as the only student conductor invited as a guest at the Korean University Orchestra Festival.

After making his professional opera debut as a music director at the Seoul Metropolitan Opera Company in 2009, he was invited as a guest conductor for a variety of orchestras and opera companies, including the Pucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, Daegu Opera Company, Seoul Opera Company, Insiem Orchestra, Severance Orchestra and Seoul National University Orchestra, to name but a few.

Cho has also appeared as a guest music director for the CCM Philharmonia and Concert Orchestra. He conducted the Concert Orchestra for CCM's Mainstage Series production of Mozart's Don Giovanni in 2012.

This past summer, Cho made his European debut as a guest conductor with the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Salerno, Italy, conducting The Barber of Seville.

Cho completed undergraduate studies in orchestral conducting and composition at the Seoul National University before coming to CCM for graduate school. He has served as an adjunct assistant professor of opera since 2013 and has also worked with Cincinnati Opera.

Learn more about the Blue Danube Competition by visiting