This program explores elements of an ethereal nature, earthly solitude, vivid and radiant brilliance, songs of prayer and hope, and heroic triumph. Each stage of spiritual reflection draws the listeners to focus their attention on the current moment, here and now.
Stephen Kim’s bold programming features Shinuh Lee’s premiere “Till Dawn”, her violin and piano sonata no. 2 in the first half, and the late Schubert “Fantasie in C Major”, op. posth. for violin and piano which ends the concert. Both are substantial works that anchor the well-chosen pieces that fill out the concert. Both the Biber and the Ysaye are scored for solo violin; Ms. Lee’s work with the piano provides an instrumental texture that is welcome. Ms. Lee wrote the Violin Sonata No. 2 for Stephen, and they collaborated closely. He describes the atmosphere as “earthly solitude”.
Heinrich Biber wrote his virtuosic Passacaglia to follow the 15 Rosary Sonatas. It is an eight-minute baroque tour-de-force which perfectly introduces this program. Eugene Ysaye wrote six sonatas for unaccompanied violin, each dedicated to a different violinist. The Sonata No. 5, dedicated to Mathieu Crickboom, comprises two parts: “L’Aurore” and “Danse Rustique.”
After intermission, Stephen concentrates on three important works of Franz Schubert. The first two selections, Schubert’s famous songs Ellens dritter Gesang (“Ave Maria”) and Am Tage Aller Seelen (“The Day of All Souls”), are paeans of prayer and hope. Closing the concert is Schubert’s Fantasie. As Stephen Kim writes, “The Fantasie is kind of a giant summary of the whole program. It explores all of the expressions, also those from the previous pieces, through an entire journey in itself, through a transformation to heroic triumph.”
H. Biber Passacaglia in G minor for violin solo from the Rosary Sonatas (“Feast of the Guardian Angels”)
Shinuh Lee Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano, “Till Dawn”
E. Ysaÿe Sonata No. 5 in G major for solo violin, Op. 27 No. 5
F. Schubert Ellens dritter Gesang “Hymne an die Jungfrau” (“Ave Maria”), D. 839, Op. 52 No. 6
F. Schubert Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen “Am Tage Aller Seelen”, D. 343
F. Schubert Fantasie in C major for violin and piano, D. 934, Op. posth. 159
Bringing a music-first approach to audiences and fellow musicians alike, American violinist Stephen Kim is continually praised for his originality and honest music-making. Described already at an early age as “Musician Impossible … the envy of any leading virtuoso” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Stephen has since then gained international recognition, winning top prizes at the Queen Elisabeth, Paganini, and Sendai international violin competitions.
Presented in venues throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, Stephen has performed as a soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Brussels Philharmonic, Belgian National Orchestra, Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice, Curtis Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, American Academy of Conducting Orchestra at Aspen, Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, and Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Some highlights in past seasons include seven performances of Brahms’ Violin Concerto with two orchestras during a two-week tour in Belgium, as well as six conductor-less performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto #5 during a two-month tour in the United States. Recent concerts have taken Stephen to Korea, Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao, Belgium, and Carnegie Hall in New York. Stephen was also invited to perform for the presentation ceremony of Korea’s Ho-Am prize. He also donated a performance for young disabled musicians in Korea, as well as leading masterclasses for them, in an effort to inspire and spread a passion for music.
A versatile musician, Stephen also extends his active involvement in chamber music performances, ensemble playing, and the premieres of new music. He has performed numerous times with musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra as a returning guest artist at the Kingston Chamber Music Festival. Stephen has also performed at the invitation of Curtis on Tour and violist Roberto Díaz, president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. Some other chamber music settings have included collaborations with Jörg Widmann, Edgar Meyer, Natalie Zhu, Gary Hoffman, and the Miró Quartet, as well as at the Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland. He also performs often with the Sejong Soloists, sometimes as guest leader. At the Curtis Orchestra’s request, Stephen has led the orchestra as concertmaster for the world premieres of new symphonic works, and he was also invited to perform compositions of the Juilliard faculty in the school’s faculty series. Stephen also gave one of the first Korean performances of Jörg Widmann’s Second Etude for Solo Violin and Third String Quartet. At the Queen Elisabeth international violin competition, Stephen stunned the Belgian audience and listeners worldwide, with his memorized performance by heart of the final round’s commissioned work, Kimmo Hakola’s Fidl, a twenty-minute violin concerto given one week before the finals. Last year, Stephen also performed by heart, the New York/Carnegie Hall premiere of Steven Mackey’s Beautiful Passing violin concerto. In Korea this summer, Stephen will give the world premieres of two new works composed by Seoul National University composer Shinuh Lee, the First Caprice for Solo Violin and the Second Violin Sonata, both dedicated to Stephen.
Upcoming engagements include solo recitals in Germany, Canada, Belgium, Korea, and Carnegie Hall in New York.
Stephen received his Bachelor of Music at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Shmuel Ashkenasi, Joseph Silverstein, and Aaron Rosand. At Curtis, Stephen was the recipient of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Fellowship and awarded the Curtis-Milka Violin Artist Prize. Stephen also obtained a Master of Music at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Hyo Kang. His studies at Juilliard were also fully supported through the generous combination of the Irene Diamond Fellowship, the Syril H. and Walter A. Frank Scholarship, and the Mary L. Bianco Scholarship. Stephen currently studies at the Kronberg Academy with Antje Weithaas. His Professional Studies at the Kronberg Academy are funded by the Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Stiftung foundation in Germany.
Stephen plays the 1725 “ex-Moller” Guarnerius del Gesù, on generous loan from the Samsung Foundation of Culture of Korea and the Stradivari Society of Chicago.