BPO Concertmaster Dennis Kim Visits the Friends of Vienna

Dennis Kim and David Fung
Dennis Kim and David Fung

Dennis Kim and friends open the 40th Anniversary Season in style

by Jan Jezioro

The Friends of Vienna open their 40th Anniversary Concert Season this Sunday September 25, at 3:30 pm. This concert will take place at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1080 Main Street, across from the Anchor Bar. It’s a different venue than their usual Unity Chuch. The reason for the change in venue is that the concert features the Buffalo area chamber music debut of BPO Concertmaster Dennis Kim, an event which is bound to draw a much larger audience then Unity Church can accommodate.

Since assuming the orchestral post of concertmaster last season, Kim immediately won over both BPO audiences and BPO musicians, by his impeccable performance abilities, including being able to successfully guide the orchestra through the most challenging repertoire, and his genuinely warm, friendly personality.

Kim makes his chamber music debut even more exciting by inviting his frequent accompanist, the internationally-touring Chinese-Australian pianist David Fung, to join him. Fung, who just concluded an extensive concert tour in Southeast Asia and Australia, is the winner of numerous awards, including several at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium. Also appearing is Soojin Han, Kim’s wife and the mother of their two young daughters, who earned a master’s degree in cello performance from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. She will be joining her husband and David Fung in Beethoven’s Piano Trio, Opus 1, No 1. Kim and Fung will also perform Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No.8, Op.30 No.3, and the mysteriously radiant Fratres, by contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Perhaps most intriguingly, Kim will offer the American debut of the Impartation movement from the Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, by contemporary Canadian composer Richard Mascall, a work which was a multiple prize winner in the CBC Radio Competition for Young Composers, and the Canadian representative at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris.

It turns out that Dennis Kim, like many other of the best soloists and orchestral string players, loves to play chamber music. “I played a lot of chamber music while I was a student”, says Kim, “and I’ve always continued to do so when my orchestral positions took me across the globe, from Hong Kong to Finland. I love to be out of my comfort zone, and to interact with a smaller group of musicians. In some ways, the leaders of the string sections in a symphonic orchestra must play just as the members of a string chamber music group do, using both aural and visual cues to successfully interpret a score. Performing chamber music on a regular basis helps me avoid staleness as an orchestral player”.

About his piece Impartation, composer Richard Mascall says “Impartation functions quite well as a standalone piece and has now been performed all over the world. Neo-romantic in style, it has a haunting lyricism which has proven to be favorable amongst violinists. It can be performed acoustically as well as amplified with digital reverb.”

Dennis Kim and Richard Mascall go back a long ways. “When I was in my final year of high school at North Toronto Collegiate, a school renowned for its excellent music program, I was assigned a Grade 9 kid as a stand partner for our fine symphony orchestra. I recall thinking at the time, “How come this kid gets to sit with ME!?” What I quickly found out was that that kid was the best player in the entire school. I remember extolling his virtues to our music teacher, forecasting that he was going to become a top professional one day. Well that ‘kid’ was Dennis Kim, and today I feel entirely vindicated for my assessment. He and I became great friends that year and I remember being somewhat in awe of his abilities on the violin.”

“Then our paths diverged, and ultimately he left town to study at Curtis, in Philadelphia. I remember seeing Dennis one other time some years later, at a concert in Toronto when he was about 18, or 19. Then twenty years passed. He and I reconnected on Facebook in recent years, when he was living in Finland, and I was still in Canada. All these years later, nothing much has changed. We are still great friends, I’m still writing music, and he’s still a brilliant fiddle player. It’s great to be back in touch, and I’m excited about creating new works for that little ‘kid’ who has grown to become a true master of his instrument.”

The rest of the Friends of Vienna 2016-2017 Season will take place at 3:30 pm at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Ave, in Buffalo; ample free parking is available behind the Church:

Sunday October 14: Fredonia School of Music faculty members Natasha Farny, cello, and Mikying Kim, piano, perform music for cello and piano by Beethoven, Faure, Debussy, Villa-Lobos and Bohuslav Martinu.

Sunday November 6: An all-Schubert program, featuring the beloved Trout Quintet performed by BPO principal second violinist Antoine Lefebvre, violist Donna Lorenzo, UB professor of cello Jonathan Golove, BPO staff pianist Claudia Hoca and BPO associate principal bass Brett Shurtliffe.

Sunday March 5: Boléo, a tango string quartet, featuring Miranda Scoma, violin, Lázara Nelson, violin, Moshe Shulman, violist and bandoneón player, and Natasha Farny, cello.

Sunday April 2: The internationally touring Shtrykov-Tanaka Duo, featuring a pair of dynamic young artists, Russian clarinetist Maksim Shtrykov and Japanese pianist Misuzu Tanaka in works by four 20th Century giants: Serge Prokofiev, Mieczysław Weinberg, Arvo Pärt and Francis Poulenc.

Sunday April 23: Susan Yondt, professor of piano, Royal College of Music, Stockholm returns for an all-Schumann piano recital.

Tickets: $12; $5 students. Season tickets for all 6 concerts: $50.                     Information: www.friendsofvienna.org