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Meet Cherry Kim of Cherry Kim; CK Ensemble

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cherry Kim.

Cherry, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When an artist finds a medium he can explore insatiably, he has discovered his calling and purpose in life. Music was that medium for me and the cello my companion for these last twenty plus years.

As a child, I had an innate love for the arts, nurtured through cross-cultural and diverse learning experiences. The early years leading up to my curiosity for the cello were split geographically between living in Korea and the U.S. My family moved back and forth twice before I turned twelve. To sum up early musical influences, I can recall several memories.

As a child, using chopsticks like a conductor’s baton listening to music. Singing along Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel songs while driving around Los Angeles. Having interpretive dance sessions alone on the Persian blue carpet in our New Jersey home, swept away by imagination and sounds of Rachmaninoff and Grieg.

My first music lesson on the violin at age eight, lasting less than six months due to our move back to Korea. Followed by piano lessons (taken more seriously this time), playing Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata. Singing in the church choir and experiencing the beauty of being woven into the harmonic texture of Fauré’s music. Then one day, I saw a cellist performing on TV. It ignited curiosity and fascination in me and I knew that I had to try it for myself.

Around this time my family decided to move to the U.S. once again, this time to Dallas, Texas. We knew of a reputable cello teacher (Jungshin L. Lewis), who became my first cello teacher for five years. She was a very important influence and person in my life. She introduced me to recordings of great artists, chamber music and encouraged my growth and emotional connection with music.

My weekly cello lessons were almost sacred, anchoring me through all the weathers of teenage years. These years set the course for the next part of my journey. Freshman year at the New England Conservatory in Boston was like opening the floodgates. Surrounded by rich resources, diverse ideas and challenges, I just wanted to immerse myself in learning. And I will never forget my first lesson with Laurence Lesser.

With a sagacious smile on his face, he said, “My goal is to get rid of you.” After getting over the shock, I understood to mean that he wanted to guide me in becoming my own teacher. But the story of my life wouldn’t be complete without more relocating. To fast forward the next decade. life took me from Boston to Toronto, back to Boston, to Houston, and then back to Boston for the third time.

These years gave me the opportunity to study with different teachers, learn about baroque performance practice along the way, play chamber music and orchestra repertoire, freelance, forge new friendships, learn to overcome life’s obstacles as well as garner several degrees and diplomas along the way (from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Rice University, Longy School of Music at Bard College, Boston University).

Finishing the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree felt like the end of a long race and the beginning of a new phase. It’s exciting to see how all the various streams of influences, interests (both musical and non-musical) and opportunities converge and flow into an ocean of possibilities.

Communicating and expressing through music have always been a primary passion of mine, and chamber music and collaboration the ideal platform. And meeting colleagues to form and lead two ensembles (Gioia Duo and the CK Ensemble) has enabled me to pursue just that.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the challenges for me was having to relocate many times. But looking back, those events strengthened me. I met so many people who helped and encouraged me along the way, and those relationships are invaluable to me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Please tell us about Cherry Kim; CK Ensemble.
After living in Boston for many years, I got very excited when I found other musicians who shared similar musical passions, intellectual curiosity and the desire to collaborate. I started the CK Ensemble with the vision of bringing together such colleagues who will stretch and support each other as artists. Our first concert season as a trio–flute (Elzbieta Brandys-O’Neill), cello and piano (Daesik Cha)–received a generous review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer earlier this year.

As a classical cellist with knowledge about historical performance practice as well as interest in other musical styles, my goal is to expand the ensemble. The CK Ensemble’s vision is to present compelling performances that fuse historical performance practice and styles with fresh perspectives and to bring our audience toward a deeper understanding of and appreciation for music through vivid verbal and musical communications.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I can’t think of one favorite memory but a favorite segment of my childhood that contains several snapshots of fond memories. That was the year when my family lived in New Jersey and I was in 2nd grade.

My mom buying me and my sister interesting old objects at garage sales; learning jazz and tap dance; my first grey kitten; collecting ladybugs in tin cookie containers with neighborhood kids; discovering enjoyment in drawing; the tree house in our backyard; and dancing alone in our Persian blue-carpeted room, swept away by imagination and sounds of Rachmaninoff and Grieg.

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Image Credit:
Scott M. Lacey

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