Interview with Jonah Kim

We are thrilled to once again feature cellist Jonah Kim as our soloist for the upcoming concert, Symphonic Fire.   He was featured in a recital last season, and in various other performances in Santa Cruz County over the last couple of years.

We asked him some questions about his background.

Q:  What was it like to go to conservatory at a young age?

A: Being at conservatory at a young age meant that I went straight to the best teachers in the world. I was incredibly fortunate to have received only sound advice. Many beginners stray early on because of inadequate instruction. Unlearning bad habits can take a long time, inhibiting real growth. I feel very grateful to my teachers. Their strict guidance helped me understand structure which enabled me to find freedom in developing my own method of cello playing.

Q: What kinds of challenges did you experience?

A: Challenges were mostly social. I remember lying about my age for years to try to fit in, to be included in simple things. My parents always had high expectations, and now it wasn’t just them, it was everyone. I was expected to win auditions, competitions. Of course, I was expected to play at a certain standard, but also expected to present something unmistakably me- original, new and out of the box. Many teachers chose me as a favorite and a few teachers didn’t like me simply because they were politically opposed to the teachers who supported me. It was tricky for sure, but great lessons all around.

Q:  Who’s your favorite collaborator with music?

A:  My favorite people to work with are my friends. My friends and I have similar tastes and similar listening patterns and a familiar sense for the flow of time. Similar pet peeves. Also, it’s hard not being friends with people who make beautiful music with you. I think this is another great advantage to being at great conservatories- simply being around the talent and altogether being immersed in this world of wonderment and tradition and discovery; we learned just as much from our classmates as we did from our teachers. I feel very blessed to get to make music with the friends I get to make music with.

Q:  How did you get to know Danny?

A:  I first heard about Danny when I moved back from London. Most of my friends had graduated and the few who remained were still away over winter break. Texting had become a thing around this time and it’s been one epic party since that first hang, still goin’.

Q:  Why Santa Cruz?

A:   Danny. Also I love coming to Santa Cruz for Rebecca Jackson’s chamber music festival called Music in May which I’ve done for a few summer now, so I’ve had a few chances to connect with the community, got to know the town a little better. Hard to say no to hanging out with my brother Danny in one of my favorite spots and sharing some beautiful music while we’re here!