Winner of 2001 International Web Concert Hall
Pianist Angela Jia Kim has garnered acclaim for
being "a superb colorist able to blend all components of the aural palette" and
"a piano virtuoso whose talent and energy have no limitations." Maria Curcio,
the eminent pupil of Artur Schnabel, described Angela as "a real virtuoso
astonishing artistry" and predicted that she would be "one of the most
formidable pianists, representing her country on the world stage." She has performed
throughout the United States, Canada and Europe at the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Chopin
Academy in Warsaw, the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, the French Embassy
in Washington, D.C., and other recital venues in Holland, Montreal, and Vancouver. She was
a guest artist in a PBS special: "Studio III Presents Angela Kim" that
was aired in the midwest, and her performances have been broadcast on Vermont Public
Radio, "LIVE ARTISTS," and nationally in Canada on CBC Radio
"Music from Montreal." Upcoming performances include solo recitals in Paris, New
York, at the International Piano Festival in Maine, and on the Dame Myra Hess
Concert Series in Chicago, which will be broadcast live on WFMT Radio.
Angela has been the recipient of both the New
York and Iowa Arts Council awards, which have sponsored recitals in the United
States and France, as well as a CD recording at the Banff Centre for the Arts in
Canada. She received international recognition by winning the Best Interpretation of
French Music Award at the 1997 French Piano Institute in Paris. Other honors
include the 1998 Début Young Concert Artist Award and the grand prize of the 1991 Mozart
MOL: Tell us about French Music Award at the 1997
French Piano Institute in Paris. The mission of organization and what was the prize?
The French Piano Institute brings pianists from around the
world together to Paris with the sole mission of studying and performing French music. The
prizes that I won were the Best Interpretation of French Music Award and a recital at the
French Embassy in Washington, D.C.
MOL: What did you perform at the French Embassy?
Some pieces that I performed were Ravel Jeux dEau and
Pavane, Debussy LIsle Joyeux, and probably some Poulenc as well.
MOL: Tell us about your musical background.... When
did you start?
My mom was six months pregnant with me when she gave her
Masters piano recital at Michigan State University where she studied with Ralph
Votapek. So even before I was born, I was hearing music in my mothers womb. I think
that one of my earliest memories is of my intense desire to climb on the bench so that I
could touch the keys and hear the sounds. My mom began to teach me at the age of three and
I also began violin lessons at the age of four.
I studied at the Eastman School of Music and upon graduating,
I was extremely fortunate to play for Maria Curcio, an eminent teacher in London and
former student of Artur Schnabel. One thing led to another and I was introduced to a
patron of the arts that she knew. He heard me play and decided to sponsor me for the next
three years. He was very generous with the young artists that he sponsored, and thanks to
him, I was able to study in Montreal with Marc Durand while going to London to play for
Maria and to other music festivals in Europe.
MOL: How long did you play the violin? Why did you
decided to choose piano instead of violin?
This is a very interesting question. I have wondered the same
thing myself. I think that I had a facility in both instruments, and my violin teacher
wanted me to continue on. (I quit after seven years of study.) I think that I was
naturally drawn to the piano, and the sound pleased me much more than that of the violin.
After all, who can stand the screeching noises coming from a beginner?
MOL: Was either of your parents a musician?
My mom is still teaching the piano and my dad was a math
professor. I believe that he was a musician at heart and loved every aspect of music
making. He liked the idea of sweating hard while you work, being passionate and dedicated
about the work, and finally, sharing it with others.
MOL: Do you have any other members of family who
plays musical instrument? Is your husband musician?
My two youngers sisters also played instruments: Emily played
the piano, violin, and flute, and Joyce played the piano and cello. Yes, my husband and I
got married in France this past summer in France. Marc is a producer and recording
engineer. He has a Bachelor and Masters Degree from the Geneva Conservatory in flute
performance and a Masters Degree from McGill University in sound engineering. He is
a first-rate musician, which makes him an excellent producer and recording engineer. He
currently works for Classic Sound in Manhattan.
MOL: Who are your teachers? And when you recall some
of your teachers what are the first and best qualities you remember?
My recent and most influential teachers are Lee Kum Sing and
Marc Durand, two wonderful musicians in Canada. Past teachers include Barry Snyder,
Chiu-Ling Lin, and my mom, Hannah Kim. I take coachings periodically from Juana Zayas here
in New York City.
From Marc Durand, I learned about structure, shaping the
piece, rhythm and timing. He gave me excellent tools to become independent. Lee Kum Sing
has left an indelible print in me that no stone should be left unturned. Every note and
harmony must be considered. What sound do I want? What articulation? These are crucial
issues to consider when one is practicing.
Juana listens to me before some of my recitals and I receive
helpful feedback from her. I admire her own playing, and I think its so important to
always play for someone who may have a different approach. Barry and Chiu-Ling are also
wonderful pianists who both play with beautiful colors. This undoubtedly has left its mark
MOL: How did your friend, parents, etc. influence you
as a musician?
I am fortunate to have fellow musicians with whom I can share
different musical thoughts. I have tremendous respect for a colleague of mine who teaches
at Curtis and is a phenomenal pianist. His feedback is invaluable to me and his comments
leave me with a whirlwind of new ideas to consider and play with. When you find other
musicians who value the same things that you do, its important to take the time to
cultivate the friendship.
MOL: Do you teach?
I only have one student right now due to a busy schedule, but
teaching is something that I would eventually love to do in the future. I believe that
teaching is an enormous responsibility that should never be taken lightly. It takes a
special talent to strike the delicate balance between firmly guiding the student through
essential principles while also respecting what the student has to offer.
MOL: How much do you practice daily before a
One week before a performance, if time permits, I usually
practice five to six hours per day. On the day of the performance, I dont like to
practice more than two or three hours.
MOL: How much or often do you practice basic (tone
production, breathing, etc.)? If so, what kind of basic do you practice?
I dont practice basic technique outside of what the
pieces that Im working on bring to me. I do break down the pieces and sort out the
basics within that framework.
MOL: How do you select repertoire for your recital?
I have always said that the pieces "call my name."
Suddenly I will wake up feeling compelled to play a certain piece, and this is usually how
I choose what I will play. I also like to have a variety in my recitals. Audience members
always appreciate when the performer offers a varied program to them.
MOL: What period music do you enjoy playing most and
I go through phases depending on my general mood. These days
Im particularly drawn to Mozart and Schubert for the purity and simplicity. I have
also recently discovered Albénizs music, which is absolutely brilliant! I
cant wait to dig my fingers into his compositions.
MOL: In your opinion, what is your strength in your
My strength is probably that I have a very strong sense of
commitment to piano playing and am constantly searching for new answers. When one is
relentless in the passion to make beautiful music, I believe the answers do find their way
MOL: What do you hope to accomplish as a musician?
My goal is very simple: to provide solace for the listener
who needs to escape into a world where there is "perfection." This is what music
does for me, and there is nothing I want more than to give this to others.
MOL: Among many pianists or instrumentalists, did
anyone give you such experience you just described?
Glenn Goulds Goldberg Variations (the 1981 recording)
moves me profoundly every time I listen to it. This, to me, is perfection.
Another instance that stands out is the first time that I
heard Mahlers 5th Symphony at the Eastman Theatre when I was a student
there. It literally consumed me with the gamut of emotion, from solitude and resignation
to hope and expectation. It was like walking into Notre Dame for the first time; I was in
complete awe. I will tell you that I listened to the fourth movement of Mahlers 5th
(New York Phil and Bernstein) a lot after September 11.
MOL: You now live in NYC. Did you decided to live in
NY because of your career?
New York has been my home base for about three years now. I
was traveling back and forth too much, and so I finally decided to make NYC my permanent
home one year ago. This decision was based on my career, but since my husband works in v
Manhattan, it works out perfectly for us. I love the energy of this city and the resources
are endless for a musician.
MOL: Do you like any other forms of art? Such as
painting? a favorite writer?
If I did not become a pianist, I would have majored in art
history. I am fascinated by paintings and by the different artistic movements such as
Fauvism, Cubism, and Dadaism. Its interesting how art movements are born out of a
reaction to what is happening in the era. My favorite museums are the Rodin museum in
Paris and the Frick Collection in New York City.
I also enjoy reading a great deal. I may be biased, but my
favorite writer is my late grandfather, Yong Ik Kim. He was an accomplished author who
moved to the States from Korea in 1948. He wrote Blue in the Seed, The Wedding Shoes, and
other novels for which he won numerous awards. It is amazing to me that he wrote in
impeccable and beautiful English even though his native tongue was Korean.
MOL: What are some of your recent readings?
At the moment, I am reading a French novel Sans Famille by
Hector Malot. My other favorite novels are Angelas Ashes by Frank McCourt and Crime
and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Its dangerous to read such good
bookspracticing can become of secondary concern when one is immersed in such
MOL: What do you do for hobby, if any?
I practice yoga regularly, I love to cook pasta, and I enjoy
listening to music. These three activities clear my mind and refuel me. I enjoy studying
languages (French and Korean), reading, and playing tennis. Most of all, I love to spend
time with my husband, family and friends.
MOL: What do you hope to achieve ten years from now
in your music career?
I want to continue what I am doing now: spend quality time at
the piano studying each piece and then travel around the world to share it with others in
recitals and recordings. If I can continue to grow as a musician, I will be very happy.
MOL: In your opinion, what are the characteristics of
a good performer?
This is so difficult to define! A good performer must possess
a fine musical mind, technical facility, and above all, must say something through sound,
phrasing, nuances, articulation, etc. A great performer has that "something"
that one cannot explain. Its just there.
MOL: How do you judge a good performance?
This is also very difficult to define because there are many
complicated elements that are involved in a good performance. The most important of these
elements is if I feel changed after hearing a recital. How can one describe what makes
this possible? For example, I recently went to Pollinis recital here in New York
City at Carnegie Hall. I didnt agree with everything that he did, but who could
explain the tears and shivers that came to me during the second movement of the
Beethovens Appassionata? It really is inexplicable
MOL: Do you believe a performer must attend
conservatory? What is your opinion on this?
No, I dont believe that a performer must attend a
conservatory or a music school. This, in fact, could be the downfall of many young
musicians. One must follow a professor with whom s/he can develop a meaningful
teacher-student relationship. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
MOL: Some people say that music allows us to express
ourselves in unique ways, to both share our similarities and our differences. What is your
view of music and if so, Why should people integrate music into their lives? What does it
As I mentioned earlier, I believe music offers solace to
people. As a musician, it offers such a powerful vehicle from soul to sound. This is so
easy to say, so hard to do! And it is a lifetimes work, a commitment that can bring
rewards far more fulfilling than fame and fortune.
MOL: I think we need to wrap up at this point.
So, on be half of MusicalOnline, we would like to thank you for your time and we wish all
MusicalOnline on October, 2001