The Korea Herald


Violinist searches for ‘Spiritual Reflections’

Stephen Kim to hold his first solo recital in Korea

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Aug. 19, 2021 - 15:24

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Violinist Stephen Kim (Christoph Wu) Violinist Stephen Kim (Christoph Wu)

Violinist Stephen Kim is to hold a recital on Sunday at the Seoul Arts Center, opening the 2021 Hic et Nunc! music festival organized by the string ensemble Sejong Soloists.

The Korean American violinist, 26, won the third prize at the 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition. It is his first solo recital in Korea.

“The title of the recital is ‘Spiritual Reflection.’ I wanted to create a program consisting of -- of course something that I enjoy playing -- but also something that I hope the listeners and the audiences can relate to,” Kim said during an interview with The Korea Herald Wednesday at the Seoul Arts Center.

At the recital, Kim, who is also a Sejong Soloists member, will premiere Lee Shin-uh’s Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano, “Till Dawn.” Lee, a professor at the Seoul National University, wrote the work for Kim. The two met through the Sejong Soloists’ premiere of Lee’s “Symphonic Poem Yeomillak: Homage to King Sejong the Great” in 2019.

“I collaborated closely with her when she wrote the new work. She asked me what kind of things do I want to explore in this piece,” Kim said.

Kim will also perform Biber’s Passacaglia in G minor for violin solo from the Rosary Sonatas (Feast of the Guardian Angels) and Ysaye’s Sonata No. 5 in G major for solo violin, Op. 27 No. 5.

After the intermission, the recital will highlight Schubert, presenting the Austrian composer’s Ellen’s Third Song “Hymn to the Virgin” (Ave Maria), D.839, Litany for the Feast of All Souls, D.343 and Fantasy in C major for violin and piano, D. 934.

“Hopefully for the listeners and the audiences, the recital gives them hope. Every journey we go through in life, we can experience a lot of different kinds of emotions. We transform and we go through changes,” Kim said. “In the end, like the Schubert Fantasy, it ends in triumph.”

Kim also pointed out the festival’s title, “Hic et Nunc,” which means “here and now” in Latin. Kim hopes the audience can “focus just on the moment which is here and now” through the recital.

“We are all human beings, whatever experience we have, we can find some connection to music,” he said. “For me, music is like an escape -- for me to be focused on what I am doing at that particular moment,” he said.

Kim plays the 1725 “ex-Moller” Guarnerius del Gesu that has been on loan from the Samsung Foundation of Culture since 2015.

The Hic et Nunc! Festival, in its fourth edition, will take place at the Seoul Arts Center until Sept. 13. The festival will feature recitals, outreach concerts, master classes, a concert opera performance and more.

By Im Eun-byel (