Paul Kim
Second Violin


Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Joined the Nashville Symphony in 2017 

What other orchestras or ensembles have you worked with?
Professionally, I was engaged with the Canton Symphony Orchestra for a while. It’s a regional orchestra near the Cleveland Institute of Music, where I went to school. 

What interested you in auditioning for the Nashville Symphony?
I happened to run into Maestro Guerrero a couple of times while I was at CIM; he held short readings where he led a rehearsal, and he also conducted a concert there. I always knew that he was a musician of great energy, and I had a lot to learn from him. When I saw his name as the music director of this ensemble, I felt like it would be a good place to audition. 

Had you ever visited Nashville prior to auditioning?  
When I won this audition, it was my second audition for the Nashville Symphony. The first time I came here, I had no idea what Nashville was like, and I was very pleasantly surprised when I showed up. I’m really big into food, and there are such great restaurants here that there’s almost not enough time and meals in the day to get caught up. 

What do you love most about playing the violin?
What drives and excites me the most is collaboration — when I get to collaborate with people and then experience their music, and maybe play a part in influencing them as they influence me. There’s such an infinite amount of exploration that you can do within the realm of collaboration. Every day I walk into rehearsal, there’s someone new that I notice; I look around and I think, “Wow! Just really great! I want to be like that!” 

If you could meet any composer, who would you meet and what would you ask them?
I would love to meet Beethoven because he’s at the crux of so many great composers’ work and so many people regard him at the highest level. I would want to ask him when the last time he took a shower was.

 Do you have a favorite movie score?
I remember the first time I watched a movie, and I kind of don’t remember the movie, but I remember the soundtrack really well. It was Cinema Paradiso, and the music in it was just so gorgeous and honestly very distracting, but in the best way possible.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from your teachers?
I’ve always felt like my career as a musician is an amalgamation of what my teachers have taught me. What’s more important is that they have all taught me through example how to be a better person. In this field, it can be very easy to go through phases of big-headedness. When I look at my teachers, they’re so much greater than me and they are just as humble, and I feel like I should aspire to be that way as well. 

Have you gotten to travel much as a musician? Where you have you most enjoyed performing?
In the summer of 2013, I got to go to Japan with the Pacific Music Festival. That’s the farthest I’ve traveled just to play music, and that was an experience. In America, we’re really into the standing ovation. In Japan no one stands up, but they clap for an incredibly long time. So when you’re onstage, you don’t know if they actually like it, because you’re really used to getting the standing ovation after a concert. 

Which concert are you most looking forward to this season?
I’m really excited to see Augustin Hadelich. When I was in middle school, my violin teacher told me to go online to the Indianapolis Violin Competition website, because they were doing this new thing where you can stream videos of contestants playing online. I saw everybody from the semifinals in a week, and I heard Augustin Hadelich’s round, and I thought, “Wow, I think this guy might win. He’s really great. I think he’s really special.” I was young, so I had no idea what I was talking about, but I was really drawn to his performance. And lo and behold, he did end up winning. So I have personal connection to him, and I really admire his playing. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
My principal hobby is video games, and I really like watching people play video games professionally (eSports).  

What interests you about eSports?
What’s cool about eSports and classical music is that they’re not mainstream. You might say that classical is not mainstream anymore, in a sense, and that eSports is not mainstream yet. But they still struggle with the same issues as an industry. There are some really interesting parallels at the highest levels of gaming and musicianship: how much professionals have to practice, and how committed they are to what they do. 

When I was trying to be a better gamer, I used to watch videos about how to practice playing video games. They’re essentially studies, just like an etude for the violin. I was thinking, I really should do this in my own violin playing; I’m not professional gamer, but it makes no sense for me not to play etudes on my violin, but then to be sitting around doing this. The way practice works for gaming is exactly like how you practice for violin — for example, how you isolate certain problems.

Why does classical music matter?
Art has an intrinsic value that has to be preserved. If it’s lasted this long, we have a duty to uphold it and to allow it to grow. 

Favorite piece of music?
Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony 

Favorite classical musician?
Frank Peter Zimmerman 

First concert?
Probably the earliest I remember was Maxim Vengerov when I was really young. I just slept through the whole thing. It’s one of my biggest regrets. 

First recording you owned?
The first one I remember buying for myself was Maxim Vengerov’s The Road I Traveled. I really loved that CD. It stayed in our car forever. 

Favorite movie?
The Artist — it’s a silent move about silent movies. 

Favorite TV show?
How I Met Your Mother 

Favorite book?
Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. I’d never read a book like that. 

Favorite food?
Food in general!