The San Diego Union-Tribune
BY LISA DEADERICK
Classical pianist Jeeyoon Kim: ‘a messenger of beauty’ using life lessons to connect with others
Jeeyoon Kim still isn’t quite sure whether she chose the piano at the age of 4, or piano chose her, but the award-winning classical pianist and music educator has no regrets about following her passion and love for music.
She’s been called a “force of nature” with “a wealth of talent” who’s built a connection with her audiences through conversation, converting younger listeners to the beauty she sees in classical music. Now, she’s sharing the lessons and habits she’s cultivated in her life as a musician in her new book, “Whenever You’re Ready: How to Compose the Life of Your Dreams.”
Interview with Jeeyoon Kim, Fanfare Magazine
BY JACQUELINE KHAROUF
"I think classical music was always, always there. What changed is us. Inevitably! For me, as a musician, as a pianist, my mission is that without cheating the core, of staying true to the content of classical music, but wearing the contemporary clothing so that people can really get a little closer to this classical music, to the beauty of it. I think that is basically my mission as a pianist: I want to bring people of the other corner to this corner. Some audiences commented that I am like a gateway drug to classical music." [Laughs].
‘Over. Above. Beyond.’
From Carnegie Hall to San Diego, local pianist brings her sound home on Dec. 9
“Welcome to my dream.”
That’s what Hillcrest resident Dr. Jeeyoon Kim told the audience when she stepped out on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time. She thought, “If this is my last concert, it will be okay — I have no regrets, nothing to worry about, I just have to enjoy it.”
That was December 2017, and Kim did enjoy it. She called herself “a cup for the music” and felt that both she and her audience were filled. But it turned out it wasn’t Kim’s last concert; instead, the Carnegie Hall show became a kick-off for her latest album adventure, “Over. Above. Beyond.”
Award-Winning Pianist Jeeyoon Kim Performing at Manistee’s Ramsdell Theatre Feb. 23
“She’s a very interesting artist,” says Matt Thomas. As executive director of the Shoreline Music Society, Thomas was instrumental in bringing Kim to the area. “She’s into meeting the audience, not just signing CDs. Her idea is to have an interaction and conversation.”
That means not simply dazzling with her technical ability, though she can and does, but also discussing the how and why of the music—why she plays particular tunes, and the emotions they evoke in her. Kim also plays music that any audience can understand.
Classical pianist Jeeyoon Kim to play at Ramsdell
concert-goers will have the rare opportunity to hear one of the next great stars of the music world: Jeeyoon Kim.
“We feel very fortunate to welcome Ms. Kim,” Matthew Thomas, Shoreline’s executive director stated. “She brings not only a wealth of talent but also a fresh and wonderful way of presenting classical music to her audiences.”
Shoreline’s artistic director Robert Nordling agreed, “Our purpose is to create a conversation and connection between performer and audience, and that’s exactly what Jeeyoon does. One feels as though they have been invited into her home.”
REVIEW, Carnegie Hall Debut
If these descriptions seem to you to run the risk of banality or sentimentability, then you were not at Ms. Kim’s recital. Ms. Kim is unsurpassed in her ability to communicate without sentimentality the emotional core of the music she plays. Her words and her playing reinforce each other, taking the listener into the very soul of the music. Courage is not a word normally applied to musical performers, but Ms. Kim is courageous, in being willing to engage in this degree of self-exposure before a hall full of strangers.
REVIEW, "10 More Minutes"
She is simply a force of nature, one who lives for that special connection with a live audience. That connection is the fuel that drives her, that keeps her constantly examining, self-questioning, and perfecting her craft, keeps her hewed to a schedule of discipline and practice that might make lesser pianists wilt under the pressure. I want to hear much more from this pianist in the future, both in recordings and live performance.
Q & A – Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim – Soaring ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’
SJF: What do you do for fun between concerts and appearances?
JK: I love traveling. I love the feeling of growth when you go to a new environment. I come back with a new perspective of life.
It may not sound so relaxing per se, but I do love studying other languages. That is really refreshing for me. It has been about a year since I started to study Spanish. I may not be the most fluent speaker yet, but I surely find it fun to exercise my brain while being able to communicate in a different language. Hablamos en español si puede por futuro!
SJF: Is it isolating being a solo performer?
JK: Is it? Absolutely not! We are all alone in our life journey. But we are never isolated as we are surrounded by all of our friends and family, and for me, with God. I believe the same thing on stage. I have music and you together, as I am walking with my own feet. It is full of love.