Talk Music: Violinist to play Victoria Fine Arts Center
Feb. 19, 2014 at 3:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2014 at 8:19 p.m.
South Korean violinist Hye-Jin Kim will bring her fiery performance style to Victoria this weekend for a concert at Victoria Fine Arts Center.
Her music has been praised by critics for its "heart-stopping, unrivaled beauty."
Kim began studying violin at age 8 in Seoul, South Korea. At age 14, she joined The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and later earned her master's degree at the New England Conservatory.
When she is not traveling the country performing, she is an assistant violin professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.
Tell me about your instrument?
It was crafted in 1687 in a town called Saluzzo in Italy. It predates Stradivarius, so it's very old.
I don't know how it came to this country, but I was looking for a violin I could play for a very long time as I entered into my professional performing career about six or seven years ago.
I visited many different shops, and this violin is one of the first I tried. I tried many violins but always thought about this one and wanted to come back to it. I knew this was the right one.
Sound-wise, it has very deep, gorgeous tones to it. At times, it can be bright, but its best quality is the bottom strings and the depth of the tone and sound.
What do you think about when you're playing?
It's different every time, depending on the situation and depending on my age.
I used to get so nervous playing on stage when I was young, and then my mind would go blank - literally blank. My bow arm and my fingers would be on auto-pilot and play on their own.
As I performed more and got older and more experienced, I'm able to focus on stage in a way that I can really follow the music and think about what I want to express at the moment. I listen to the orchestra and the music we're playing together, so it's so much more fun that way, and I can really enjoy what I play. Ever since I was able to do that as I gained more experience, of course, I'm a little nervous, but not as frightened as before.
The concert includes Higdon, Strauss and your Dvorak pieces. Which piece are you most excited about?
The Dvorak violin concerto in the program is a piece that is just great. It's not played so often; I don't know why because it totally deserves to be played everywhere and all the time. It's a great piece by Antonio Dvorak, he being the most well-known Slavic and beloved Slavic composer. He writes beautiful melodies and orchestrations. This concerto also has a lot of fire in it and virtuosic display; I'm looking forward to working with the orchestra and highlighting those characteristics.
I first learned the piece when I was a teenager; I was maybe 17 or 18. I'm playing it a couple times this season, so it's great to be able to play it many times. I feel like I enjoy each time a lot more.
How does classical and contemporary classical music inspire you?
It's almost never-ending quest for finding new pieces to play, finding old pieces I don't know to play. The repertoire is so vast, not just violin, but all fields like orchestra and chamber music and opera.
I just love exploring and studying as much as I can. I just love that there's always more, and there's always older music, and also the new music is constantly being written and played.
I'm a lover of the romantic classical era from 18th Century on, but these days, I am exploring more into the contemporary music scene and getting to know new and young composers who write great music. I like them equally, but at the moment, I feel a little more comfortable playing the repertoire of the old, but I'm very excited to explore the new.
It looks like you have a busy traveling schedule, visiting Texas in between concerts in North Carolina and New York. Is there anything you're hoping to do while you're in the South?
I've never played in Texas. It'll be my first time. I'm just coming for Victoria; I don't know what the town is like, so I'm looking forward to it, and working with the maestro will be a lot of fun.
What advice do you have for first-time symphony-goers?
Before coming to the concert, maybe read a little bit about Dvorak and who he is. That can really make a difference as you listen to the specific piece.
Just enjoy a different feeling of the concerto. This one, especially, Dvorak is not shy about bringing so many different feelings. Sometimes, it's fiery and very intense; sometimes, it's really sweet and beautiful, and in the third movement, it's funny and more folk-dance like. Keep your ear out for all these different qualities of music.