Welcome violinist Eunice Kim

By Kyu-Young Kim

Just on the heels of announcing Francisco Fullana’s appointment as Principal Violin two weeks ago, I’m excited to share the additional news that violinist Eunice Kim has just been named the SPCO’s newest permanent orchestra member. Eunice is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician, and recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. She first played for the SPCO on a recruiting trip to New York City in the fall of 2013, and has played numerous weeks as a guest musician with us since then.

Eunice is a remarkable violinist and deeply impressed the audition committee with her supple, sensitive playing, flawless technique, and incredible chamber music skills. After playing a fantastic audition last February, we invited her to play three trial weeks in the spring, including a chamber music week in which we featured her in the Mendelssohn String Quintet in B-flat. She simply blew our musicians and the audience away with those performances

Eunice’s skills will be highlighted December 8-10 as solo violinist for Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, and she can be seen in rotating positions in the first and second violins throughout the coming season.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, violinist Eunice Kim made her solo debut at the age of seven with the Korean Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra. She recently made her solo debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Louisville Symphony, and performed George Tsontakis’s Unforgettable with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Also recently, she performed at the Library of Congress on the “Ward” Antonio Stradivari violin, and she toured Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany, and South Korea with “Curtis On Tour.” An enthusiastic advocate for community engagement, she has been partnered with The Philadelphia Orchestra Department of Education to perform in outreach series, and regularly participates in Astral’s Community Engagement & Education programs. She has taught at numerous international music festivals, most recently at the Teatro Del Lago Festival in Chile and the Valdres Music Academy in Norway and has participated in the Music from Angel Fire and Marlboro Music festivals.

To help introduce Eunice to Twin Cities audiences, I asked her the following questions:

What do you find most exciting about joining the SPCO?

I find it thrilling to be a part of an ensemble where it is so intimate that every single person is equally involved. We hear the voices of almost every musician in the orchestra in one rehearsal, which truly puts the focus on playing chamber music and growing together as a group. I love that we are constantly challenging ourselves without a limit.

The Schubert Death and the Maiden project was your first experience working with Patricia Kopatchinskaja.  What did you think?  Was it what you expected?

I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but both working with Patricia and performing with her was a memorable experience. I couldn’t be more excited to go on our European tour with her. She is brilliant, eccentric, innovative, and spontaneous–I never knew what to expect in rehearsals or performances. Because she is so passionate with how she delivers music, it certainly leads to debates on musical ideas, however, I found that it brought a very special energy to the ensemble when it came to concerts. We were always on our toes, sometimes playing on one single hair on our bow, and it created an incredible atmosphere. She’d do something completely unplanned at times which would cause eyebrow raises (the good kind) and smiles across the stage. I admire her devotion and selfless love for music.

When you auditioned for the SPCO, you used a Baroque bow when we read a Handel Concerto grosso together.  That was a huge plus in my book, but tell us how you made that decision and your impressions of the audition experience.

This was my very first orchestra audition. I was pleasantly surprised with the audition repertoire, which did not include the standard orchestra excerpts that most orchestras want to hear for technical precision. Instead, SPCO had a much more realistic audition where I was given the chance to play some chamber music with the principal players. The SPCO members were so inviting and friendly that it almost didn’t even feel like an audition. For the Handel, I immediately thought of my Baroque bow as I had been in an intense early music collegium class for a few years at the Curtis Institute of Music, which I thoroughly enjoyed and took very seriously. I remember asking my former violin teacher, Ida Kavafian, if it was a risky idea to use a Baroque bow for an orchestra audition. Bluntly and humorously, she told me that there was nothing wrong with using a Baroque bow for a Baroque piece.

What are some of your other interests besides music?

I like staying active and trying new sports. My all time favorite sport that most people make fun of me for is badminton. I’m also a fan of playing Frisbee, swimming, jet-skiing, and yoga. If injuring my fingers wasn’t a potential risk, I’d be playing basketball and volleyball everyday. I am a crazy dog lady, and besides spending time with my own dogs, I am a registered volunteer dog trainer for a few animal shelters in Philadelphia. I love reading, listening to podcasts, and watching ballet. People are often surprised to see my boyish side when I get carried away with playing video games and researching electric skateboards.

Kyu-Young Kim is the SPCO’s Artistic Director and Principal Violin

Full press release (PDF)