Meet conducting fellow Yuwon Kim before she makes her Verizon Hall debut.
This weekend, conducting fellow Yuwon Kim will conduct at Verizon Hall for the first time, leading the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives. This unique work divides the orchestra into three distinct groups of musicians. We spoke with Yuwon about her time at Curtis so far, and what it's been like to lead the orchestra in rehearsals.
It's your first year at Curtis—what has been a notable or meaningful moment for you so far?
I would say one of the most meaningful and memorable moments at Curtis so far is, when I got to meet Yannick for the first time and played Mahler 5 for him. It was such an honor and privilege that I could be able to perform in front of my idol, who I've wanted to meet in person ever since I started studying conducting. The lessons I have gotten from Yannick were very inspiring, not only his musical advice, but the way he teaches, and his personality as a human being.
What have you gained from working with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra?
I think the students are very passionate and have a desire to learn music through the orchestra. They are very talented and responsible to their jobs, even though there are many young students. And that really encourages me to work even harder.
Have you had a chance to work with (guest conductor) Mark Russell Smith? What have you learned from him during the rehearsal process?
This is my first time working with Mark Russell Smith and I am learning a lot from him through the rehearsals. His musical ideas and knowledge of the background of the pieces are very clear, which helps me to understand and approach the music more easily.
I also had a chance to talk and go through Ives’s Unanswered Question with him. He gave me much advice regarding score analysis, conducting gestures, and even considerations of rehearsal technique.
What's your favorite thing about Ives’s Unanswered Question? Had you ever conducted this piece before?
I have never conducted this piece before, and it is going to be my first time performing it. There are three important main roles in this music: the trumpet asking questions, flutes answering those, and the strings as carpet of sound. This feels like a drama to me somehow. The trumpet and strings will be offstage, which will create an interesting sound effect. I look forward to it and am very excited!
Why should aspiring conductors choose Curtis?
For conductors, it is rare to meet and have opportunities to work with a high-level student orchestra every single week, and it is inspiring to be surrounded by talented musicians. Especially because there are many events going on here at Curtis all the time, including student recitals, orchestra concerts, and opera.
Last but not least, I think it would be a nice experience to have a chance to live in the city where you can easily go and visit Philadelphia Orchestra concerts, museums, and historical places whenever you want. These help you to grow as a mature artist.
Be sure to catch the Curtis Symphony Orchestra this weekend as Yuwon makes her Verizon Hall debut on Sunday. Or join us in the suburbs on Saturday for a performance at Immaculata University. We hope to see you this weekend!