Conducting on the International Stage

Conducting on the International Stage

Photo credit: Scott L. Huck/Cedarville University

by Sharyn Kopf- Cedarville, OH

June 21, 2007

Try to escape it. Find a room that doesn’t shiver with it, a heart that doesn’t ache for it, a concert hall that doesn’t beat with it. Find a place without music, and you’re bound to notice its absence. Cedarville University Orchestra Conductor Jun Kim has been living and breathing music since his mom started teaching him piano at the age of three.

Today, he gladly shares that passion with the faculty and students at Cedarville. But his gift extends beyond campus, for Kim has recently been invited to attend master classes in St. Petersburg and Moscow, as well as a conducting program with the National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada in Ottawa.

According to Dr. Steve Winteregg, Dean of the School of Humanities, these honors alone are noteworthy. “It is remarkable to have these kinds of opportunities so young in his career,” Winteregg said. “We’re fortunate to have someone of his caliber conduct the orchestra at Cedarville.”

Kim was born to a musical, Christian family in South Korea. His mother was a piano teacher, his sister an organist. Though he wasn’t a professional musician, Kim’s father was an amateur singer. After several years learning piano under his mother’s tutelage, Kim switched to violin at the age of 12. He quickly fell in love with the instrument.

“I never had any problem deciding what I should do in the future,” he said. “I just wanted to play the violin.”

Still, he was also always interested in conducting, though Kim never dreamed God would lead him in that direction. He explained, “It was fascinating to me. It looked cool and I loved it ... but I thought the violin was my gift.” That changed when Kim was asked to conduct his church choir during his freshman year in college. He’s been conducting church choirs ever since — currently at his church in Dayton.

But after receiving his master’s degree from Indiana University, Kim headed to Cincinnati for his doctorate in violin performance. Since he was required to choose a second major, he settled on conducting, not realizing at the time where that choice would take him. Though he leaned toward the instrumental side in his studies, Kim has always been fond of choral music.

“I love the harmony,” he said. “The human voice is the most beautiful thing. So natural.”

Not too surprisingly, then, Kim fell in love with a talented soprano named You-Seong, whom he met at Indiana University. They married last November. Though their careers have forced them to live apart till now — You-Seong is an associate professor in voice at Ohio University in Athens — they’re looking forward to getting a home together in Columbus next month. And the newlyweds are expecting their first child in December.

Coming to Cedarville was, for Kim, simply a matter of being open to God’s leading, something for which Winteregg is infinitely grateful.

“First and foremost, he brings his musicality [to the college],” Winteregg noted. “Jun emphasizes bringing out more than the printed page and making the music come alive. Everyone can move a baton around, but not everyone can bring the music out.”

In the short time he’s been at Cedarville, Kim has proven his invaluable contribution to the University. Winteregg said, “He’s a very good violinist, but he’s more interested in teaching. He really enjoys that, and it’s a good sign. Jun wants to serve.”

That desire to serve can be seen in the work he’s doing and in his desire to bring something new to the music program at Cedarville. “I want to help the students become more passionate about music,” he said. “I wish to see more majors and more instrumentalist students. I just hope God can use me in whatever way he would like to as part of Cedarville University.”

With Kim on staff, the eyes of the musical community around the world are sure to be focused on Cedarville — an exciting prospect for everyone involved.