Professor takes the stage with local orchestra at international clinic
By Lauren Highfill
The windy, cold weather in Chicago isn’t expected to deter the crowd of 14,000 at the Midwest Clinic Dec. 18 through 22. During this prestigious international music conference, Kennesaw State University Assistant Professor of Violin Helen Kim will be performing as a soloist with the Duluth High School Chamber Orchestra. The Midwest Clinic attracts excellent universities, high school, middle school and community programs and innovative experts from around the world each year. Gwinnett County’s DHSCO, the only orchestra from Georgia to perform at this year’s event, joins bands from Harrison High School and Mabry Middle School in representing Georgia at Midwest this year. The bands from Harrison and Mabry are performing a preview concert in KSU's Bailey Performance Center on December 13, 2007.
In the world of music education, the Midwest Clinic is like “the exhibition after the Olympics, where ensembles receive attention at the national level,” said Kim. As assistant concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Kim is an extremely accomplished violinist, but this specific conference is a first for her. “I’ve never been before and I’ve heard amazing things about it. I’m very honored to attend.”
Kim’s position as a soloist in the orchestra is also an honor because she was invited to participate by the co-director of orchestras at DHS, Peter Lemonds, “who is one of the top high school directors in the country,” she said. “Lemonds could’ve invited a violinist from any other school; the fact that I was selected says a lot about our program at Kennesaw State.”
KSU Director of Orchestras Michael Alexander said, "It is incredibly exciting to me to see two dedicated artists like Helen Kim and Peter Lemonds collaborating on the national stage. Both musicians have such a great spirit and will be an inspiring example not only to the students they are performing with, but to all other music educators at the performance that will see what can happen when great art and great music education combine."
Kim’s involvement with the orchestra started in the summer, when she began collaborating with Lemonds on the Bach concerto. Since then Kim has rehearsed with the chamber orchestra several times. “When I first begin working with the students,” she says, “I conduct and play so that they can experience how I do certain things, like bowing direction and tempo.” As the students’ progress, “what’s most exciting is how quickly they are able to raise their level of performance; there’s really no limits,” said Kim. “They’re very enthusiastic.” The students’ rapid advancement was showcased in a preview concert last month that was well received according to Kim.
Beyond performing at the Midwest Clinic, Kim’s interaction with the DHSCO and other high school orchestras are enlightening to local students. “When I work with the schools, the students—and sometimes the teachers—are pleasantly surprised at the high caliber of performance we have at Kennesaw State,” she said. During her time at the schools, Kim’s audience always asks insightful questions that “I believe, make me a better and more astute performer. Plus, I’m able to get to know the new talent in the community. When you’re just giving a performance, you’re not always able to do that.”
Kim relishes the opportunities she has to perform for and with young musicians. “I really enjoy gaining insights any time I work with students. As a teacher and a performer, you never stop learning.” Kim and the members of the DHSCO will surely learn a lot from their experiences at the Midwest Clinic. After she returns from the Windy City, Kim will continue interacting with high school orchestra students, sharing in the experiences of performing and learning.