by: Shilpa Nataraj – The Winged Post
Illustrating her musical journey and providing techniques for audition preparation, Nancy Kim, professional cellist and middle school 1996 alumna, conducted a music workshop March 19 in the orchestra room.
“I thought Nancy’s workshop was great. She provided the performing students with great musical advice on their excerpts and gave the other students really wonderful advice about a career in music,” Orchestra and Jazz Band conductor Christopher Florio said.
Fourteen years ago, when Kim was in school, an orchestral program didn’t even exist. Kim agreed to visit the upper school partly out of curiosity, after Florio assured that she would see “how much the community here has grown and how the music programs have become something really wonderful.”
Kim is a tenured member of the Monterey Symphony and a member of several other acclaimed Northern Californian orchestras. She also teaches her discipline, the cello, to Bay Area students.
“I just love seeing when someone who’s working on a piece is very close to having a certain interpretation of it, and I really like facilitating its direction,” Kim said. “I enjoy seeing young performers improve and grow.”
Melody Huang, Gr. 10, Sonya Huang, Gr. 12 and Audrey Kwong ’07 each prepared one or two orchestral excerpts to render “mock auditions” for Kim to critique. Her comments included the importance of “relishing even the little notes,” the color of sound, clarity and maintaining a steady pulse throughout the piece.
“[Kim] mostly emphasized my [musical expression] and pointed out the spots I could change to better fit it or make it more understandable,” Melody Huang said. “I think [her advice] really gave me a clearer sense of the structure of the excerpt.”
After the mock auditions, Kim discussed her journey and then shared a portion of a documentary on the Philadelphia Orchestra. The film, according to Kim, portrays “a wonderful reflection of what orchestra musicians go through and what they think and feel about the music that they play.”
Initially, Kim aspired to graduate from Oberlin College in Ohio as purely an English major. After also enrolling in music classes in her second year, though, an inspirational teacher aided her in becoming more involved in the intricacies of the cello. For her master’s in orchestral performance, Kim attended the Manhattan School of Music in New York, an inspirational place completely enveloped in the arts, she recalled.
“I’m a case study [for the people whom] the music bug doesn’t bite till later on,” she said.
In retrospect, Kim believes that carving one’s future early proves beneficial. She recommends that aspiring musicians build a score library and gain familiarity with as many excerpts as possible for auditions. She adds that it is essential to hear feedback from friends, peers and instructors. It is also important to self-critique by watching taped practices or by other means.
Kim started her mastery of the cello at age 10 (after a lack of success with the violin and Suzuki-method piano) and felt a connection with this four-stringed instrument. However, she was compelled to catch up to the level of her peers in her studio class, so she practiced as much as three to four hours a day.
For aspiring music majors such as Maddy Rao, Gr. 10, Kim’s journey is inspiring. She said, “For a lot of us, parents put pressure, saying, ‘There’s too much competition, so you’re never going to be good.’ But, it’s wonderful to see [instructors like Kim] who give you hope that if you really, really want to pursue music, you definitely can.”
See the original story and slide show at http://www.talonwp.com/2010/03/ministory/1996-alumna-conducts-music-workshop/