Younggun Kim’s performances have been known for their “technical capacity and a lush sound” with concerts spanning all across North America and Europe. This Saturday, a special inaugural concert will be taking place where the Korean-Canadian pianist will allow audiences to experience a new performance space in the Yorkville area.
Couturier Rosemarie Umetsu, for many years, has opened her atelier doors to artists and opera singers having organized countless intimate concerts. With a brand new location and in partnership with Yamaha Canada, Kim’s recital will be the first of many to come in this brand new chapter.
With his performance attire also being prepared by Umetsu (as he will also be debuting a brand new Yamaha piano)piani, we chatted with Royal Conservatory alum about his upcoming musical presentational and of course, a little fashion.
MC: What’s your approach when performing intimate recitals in comparison to playing at Roy Thomson or Walter Hall?
YK: An intimate space means less distance between me and the audience, which gives me a chance to communicate with them in a way that is unique to such spaces. It is an interesting sensation as a performer that it feels as if I’m playing in a private gathering, surrounded by my friends. It is also possible to verbally communicate with the audience more easily in such a setting; from explaining the background of the next piece to cracking some jokes, playing for a smaller crowd is a great opportunity to connect closely with the public – more so if one doesn’t need a microphone. Lastly, the characteristics of a more intimate space enable a whole other palette that is not necessarily accessible in a large hall; even the smallest nuances will not be lost to the public, and while it isn’t feasible to stuff an entire Wagner production in a 150-people space, such a venue is quite ideal for solo piano and chamber music.
In a way, this is similar when comparing a public lecture and a seminar class. Both have their respective virtues. I’m really looking forward to this Saturday’s session.
MC: Share more details about the evening’s program.
YK: It’s a mixture of popular pieces, rarely played gems, and rarely played versions of these popular works. Every piano enthusiast will recognize the two Chopin works that I have programmed; however, they may not be familiar with Godowsky, who rewrote many of Chopin’s works including his Etudes. Godowsky’s pieces are new works using Chopin’s pieces as a starting point and they deserve to be played more than they are. The practical problem is that Godowsky’s works are, because of his affinity for polyphonic writing, complex harmonic language and his adventurous spirit, considered to be some of the most difficult piano music to play. Imagine playing two Chopin Etudes simultaneously – and that’s exactly what one of the pieces I’ll be playing is about. Also interesting are the Kapustin set; unlike the rest of the program, Kapustin’s musical language is jazz; they are very exciting and quite honestly, always great fun to play. I am happy to say that they have proven themselves to be audience favourites too. I am also playing pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Liszt; they are well-known pieces but for a variety of reasons not often performed in public.
MC: Finally, tell us more about your personal style and what fashion means to you both as a musical stage performer.
YK: I always try to dress myself according to the occasion. I believe that how I look is very important in creating a persona on the stage, and it is not disconnected from what I try to convey aurally; after all, you will be ‘seen’ as well as heard on the stage. So far my efforts in fashion have been concentrated on dressing myself in a way to show the same seriousness and dedication that I give to my music; maybe it is time for me to move ahead!