"Every experience holds within a blessing of some kind"


Paul Kim is currently a rising junior at Oberlin College and Conservatory.  He has been playing the violin since the age of 3. He has won numerous competitions: The Korea Time competition, US open music competition, El Camino Youth Symphony Concerto Competition, Tuesday Musical, and Twentieth Annual Music Competition winner of Bay Area Music Association. During his High school years, he volunteered at Hop3 Box, which is an organization that gives out a benefit concert and raises money towards a good cause. 2010-2011, Paul has participated on the Bon Voyage tour to France and Spain with El Camino Youth Symphony.  Paul loves to play chamber music and is hoping to get somewhere through chamber music. During the month of January of 2016, Paul has also participated in the 150th anniversary of the Oberlin Conservatory Tour to Chicago. This summer, Paul will be attending the Litomysl International Music camp, which is located in Czech Republic. Recently, Paul performed at an event titled "Connecting Culture through Music "organised by the American Center, Kolkata.

You started playing Violin at the age of 3. What or who gave you the desire to play the violin?

I started to play the violin because the son of my father’s friend actually inspired me to play. He played a mini concert at his house and I really wanted to play. He was the person who got me started to play the violin. I actually don’t remember his name.

Did you always know that you wanted to follow a career path in music? 

I wanted to pursue music during freshman year of high school. Before then, I did it for fun and to give my mind some peace when I’m stressed with school. After freshman year, I started to focus more on music because my passion for music was growing tremendously.

Do you remember your first appearance on a stage?What is it about performing that you enjoy?

My first appearance on stage was one of the most terrifying experiences that led to the most memorable experience. My stage anxiety was very bad when I started out playing the violin. This was when I was 12 years old. I played with my former teacher’s orchestra. That was the first time I have ever played with a real orchestra. What made it the worst to the best was the passion that grew inside of me. The music took over me and I started to play with my heart. The memorization and the technically of the music didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was to play the piece to the best of my ability and show the audience what my interpretation of the piece is. I still remember it to this day.

You have received many awards and performed at various places, what would you say have been your favourite experiences so far?

All of the experiences from competitions and performances were stepping stones towards a bigger goal. Every experience holds within a blessing of some kind. I can’t say which one is my favorite. I think all of them hold a special place in my heart.


If you could meet a composer, who would it be?

I would really want to meet J.S. Bach because his music is out of this world. The music is so simple but yet it holds such a deeper meaning to each masterpiece he wrote. It would give me a deeper understanding if he explained to me the deeper meaning of the pieces.

What advice would you give to young people who have aspirations as an artist?

Follow your dreams and never give up. I went through a lot of hardship trying to major in violin performance but the one thing I didn’t do is give up. I stuck with violin to the very end and now I am at a great conservatory in the United States. Never giving up is the key.

How do you see the role of music as a tool to improve cultural ties between two nations

As my uncle ( US Consul General in Kolkata) said in his speech at the American Center, “the US and India relationship could be one of the defining partnership of the 21st century.” Maybe this isn’t referring as much in music but I hope to make this partnership in music happen. My experience in Kolkata with the Kolkata Youth Orchestra changed my point of view. There are a lot of talented musicians that haven’t been given a chance to shine. I want that to happen and I hope in the very near future, I can get the tools and connections to make it possible. 

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