A conversation with Benny Kim

We’re very excited to have internationally acclaimed violinist Benny Kim joining us for our autumn concert to play Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. Benny made his solo debut at the age of 15. He graduated from The Juilliard School where he studied with legendary pedagogue Dorothy DeLay. Benny has performed with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Detroit, and internationally with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Orquésta Sinfonica Nacional de México, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the major orchestras of South Africa. He is first violinist of the Miami String Quartet, winner of the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, and Quartet in Residence at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Benny kindly took some time to tell us a little bit more about himself and his musical journey.

How old were you when you started playing the violin and what made you choose this instrument?
I was 10. The Suzuki Method was introduced to our school and I was intrigued by the sound of it. Little did I know how much I would need to practice!

Who is your favourite composer?
That’s a tough one but one of my very favorite desert island composers would have to be Edward Elgar. I absolutely melt from his music!

The Lark Ascending is probably one of the best loved violin pieces. What do you like about it and what should people listen out for?
The harmonies are simply gorgeous and the the journey of the Lark is so compelling to hear from its beginnings until the end.

What is the hardest piece you ever played?
The Elgar Violin Concerto

What was the best concert experience as a soloist?
Performing the Elgar Violin Concerto for first time. I don’t remember if it was a particularly good performance but I distinctly remember being emotionally overwhelmed to tears after it was over.

Have you ever had a disastrous concert?
The first concert I played after 9/11 was barely a week after. I could hardly focus and ended up having several memory slips during the concert. I was so pained from 9/11 that I didn’t care.

What music do you like to listen to – apart from classical?
I like listening to anything-really! However, I have my alarm clock set to country music because nothing gets me up faster than listening that twangy music!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
My teacher at The Juilliard School always said to keep playing well and good things will happen. She was right!

If you could perform with any orchestra/ conductor/ musician, who would it be – and what piece?
I can’t even BEGIN to answer this!

What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy playing golf and going on long walks with my Golden Retriever, Cubby!