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Welcome Heesoo Kim, Principal Clarinet

by Melissa Trier Kirk

Heesoo won the Principal Clarinet position with us last summer and started playing here in the fall. He graciously agreed to answer a few questions for the newsletter.

Where are you from? 

I'm from South Korea, and I studied in California. 

How did you become interested in the clarinet and opera?  

When I was younger, I used to play the violin, but I never really got into it. However, I always felt like something was missing after I stopped playing the violin. That's when I decided to start playing the clarinet in high school. I chose the clarinet because my father is a clarinetist, and I was familiar with the sound of it from a young age.

In college, I attended a concert where a clarinetist played the Rigoletto Fantasy for clarinet. The performance fascinated me so much that I started practicing the piece myself. Later, I saw the opera Rigoletto, which inspired me even more. When I practiced the fantasy after seeing the opera, I felt the different expressions and emotions of the characters I had seen and felt overlap in my playing. I could express the feeling of being an older man who had experienced many years of life, as well as a curious child where everything in the world was new and funny. Playing the music made me feel alive for the first time.

What were you doing before you came to Lyric? 

I received my bachelor's degree in South Korea and spent two years in the army before graduating. While in the military, I had no chance to take lessons, so I watched masterclass videos on YouTube for my studies. Among the many videos, I was impressed by one teacher, and he became my graduate professor. Although my original plan was to study abroad in Europe, I decided to apply to only two schools in the United States where my professor taught, as I really wanted to learn from him. I was studying for my master's at the University of Southern California with him when I saw an audition notice for Lyric, and here I am!

If you could take 3 pieces of music to a desert island, what would they be?  

When I'm feeling down or lonely, music is something I can always lean on. So, if I were on a desert island, I would take these pieces with a sense of loneliness and sadness rather than cheerfulness. Listening to them would bring me comfort and solace.

1. G. Mahler - Symphony No.5 4th movement

I believe that If most people went to a deserted island, the first and last emotions they would feel would probably be loneliness and longing. Whenever I listen to this piece, it reminds me of the people I've loved. It brings back fond memories and a bittersweet smile of regret and longing.

I can see myself sitting on a sandy beach, looking into the distance, missing the people I love.

2. G. F. Handel - Minuet in G minor

Whenever I listen to this piece, my whole life flashes before my eyes. I imagine an older man on a deserted island, staring blankly at the horizon and reminiscing about his life.

3. S. Barber - Adagio for Strings

This piece of music evokes images of waves in my mind. As the piece progresses, I imagine small waves gradually approaching me, then more giant waves of unknown weight and depth. The power of nature sweeps away my arrogance, and I am humbled, brought to my knees by its greatness. Whenever I am on a deserted island, I will remember my tiny existence in front of nature, and this song will come to mind.

What are your hobbies? 

I enjoy working out and playing games as my hobbies. I am the type of person who finds pleasure in dedicating a lot of time and effort to something and watching myself grow and progress. For instance, I trained in Muay Thai for four years during my college days, and I have also been playing a particular game for twelve years. These activities allow me to focus entirely on them while doing them, and I can observe myself changing and improving based on my efforts. These hobbies especially help me during tough times, providing a refreshing break and motivation to start practicing with enthusiasm again. Recently, I've become interested in climbing.

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