07-01-2021 Howard Mag - Flipbook - Page 44
BY MIKE KLINGAMAN Howard Magazine
usan Kim’s introduction to the violin was, honestly, a religious
experience. There she was, a precocious 3-year-old sitting in Bethel
Korean Presbyterian Church in Ellicott City during the offertory when
a musician near the pulpit raised her bow to play.
Then and there, Kim fell for the fiddle and its heavenly strains.
“I fell in love with the sound,” she said. “I had no idea what a violin was, but
when I heard [the woman] play this weird-looking brown instrument, I was very
inspired. I thought, ‘How could such a tiny thing make such enriching music?’ ”
Given a violin, Kim dived in. The first song she mastered was a nursery
rhyme, “Hot Cross Buns.” Now, at 18, her favorite piece is more highbrow —
Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor — although that nascent rush she
first felt hasn’t waned.
“I do feel [the instrument’s] resonance when I play it,” said Kim, a June
graduate of Long Reach High. “I try to make everything, the blood and the
music, flow through my body
and not just my fingers. It’s
almost a spiritual thing. I
make occasional mistakes,
but I’m not swayed by them
because as long as you believe
in the violin and your fingers,
and work at it, all will be OK.
Practice will never betray
Like the other aspiring
female artists featured here,
Kim received a scholarship
from the Howard County
Arts Council for her pursuits.
Twice chosen first chair
in the Maryland all-state
orchestra (junior and senior
Susan Kim is seen here playing the violin at the age
division), she seemed bound
of 10. She was introduced to the instrument when
she was 3 years old. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN KIM
for a college major in music,
following her mother (opera
singing) and father (clarinet). Then the STEM program intervened. At Long
Reach, where she was co-president of three honor societies, she developed a
crush on science and will study biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins
It was a tough choice. On her bedroom wall hangs “a nerdy poster” of Albert
Einstein beside a sketch of Kim playing violin, drawn by a friend.
“I always thought music would be my path to a career, so I was very conflicted,”
she said. “But I’ve learned to always make choices that I won’t regret and, in
the end, I went with my gut.”
At Hopkins, she will join its symphony orchestra, perform in small chamber
ensembles and jam by herself during study breaks. Pass her dorm room and you
might hear tunes like “My Way,” a Frank Sinatra hit, or “At Last,” by Etta James.
“When I’m randomly stressed, I’ll pull it out,” she said of her violin, a
19th-century Guarneri which she named Bella (”beautiful,” in Spanish).
Kim has already managed to mesh her twin interests in a project she completed
for a Hopkins-sponsored science research program last summer.
“String instrument players struggle with finger force, so I wanted to learn
how blood flows through our digital arteries and how different the pressure
exerted by all 10 fingers is, as we play,” she said.
Whatever the future, Kim said, her journey with Bella is far from over.
“I may even double major in music performance,” she said. “What I do know
is that music will always be a part of me.”
44 | FALL 2021 | howardmagazine.com