Jason Kim, a senior from Westview High School in San Diego, came to Chico State’s Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall on Saturday with three other California pianists to compete for $2,000 in the 16th annual Earl R. and Marilyn Ann Kruschke Prize in Piano Performance Competition.
The Orion chatted with Kim, the first place winner, about what he loves about playing piano and how much the prize means to him.
The Orion: Congratulations!
Kim: Thank you very much.
The Orion: How do you prepare for competitions like this?
Kim: I usually think about the piece, think about the character, look over the score. Mental practice. And then, when I have a chance to go on the piano, I just practice it in passages that need work or play-throughs, a few pages to see if everything’s alright.
The Orion: Do you ever get nervous before you play?
Kim: Oh yes, of course. It’s because I’m presenting myself in front of the audience. It’s like, it makes me nervous in a way because I’m doing what I love but still I want to present myself in a very professional, in a very good manner.
The Orion: Do you have any things that you do to get your nerves down?
Kim: Usually I get water or sit down or eat a banana.
The Orion: How long have you been playing piano?
Kim: I’ve been playing piano for 12 years now.
The Orion: How did you get into playing piano?
Kim: It’s interesting because my mom originally didn’t want me to start playing. She wanted my younger sister to play; she’s two years younger than I am. And so I got kind of, like, that brother-sister jealousy type of thing, that ‘I want to play piano. My younger sister’s playing piano, why shouldn’t I?’ So I started, and eventually I came to like it.
The Orion: What do you love about playing?
Kim: Just for the music. It’s just like, music is a very great thing. It’s like I have that control to be able to play the music that I want and to share my experiences, my interpretations, in front of the audience. I feel that’s very rewarding, despite all the hard work I have to put in.
The Orion: How did you choose which pieces you performed? [“Prelude in A Minor, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II” by Johann Sebastian Bach and “Apres une Lecture du Dante — Fantasia quasi Sonata” by Franz Liszt]
Kim: These were pieces that my piano teacher chose for me, and I completely agree with my teacher with most of my repertoire. So both the Bach and the Liszt were very good choices for me and my style.
The Orion: How would you describe your style?
Kim: In a way, I’m very passionate about what I do. I really like the melodic line and understanding harmony. Like, what’s interesting about my program is that there’s a contrast between the Bach and the Liszt. While the Bach is very mysterious and very subtle, the Liszt is very big, very grand, very passionate.
The Orion: Is there anyone that inspires you?
Kim: My parents inspire me and my piano teacher, definitely. My parents really help support me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to come here. And they always help me fund my piano lessons. And my teacher always inspires me to work harder, to really make me love music while being good at it.
The Orion: What does this award mean to you?
Kim: I was surprised when I got it. Almost every time I perform there’s always things like, ‘Oh I could’ve done that better,’ or ‘I wish I could’ve done that.’ It’s an honor to have received. A good amount of money, too. And to be able to be recognized by the audience and the judges.
The Orion: How will this money help you?
Kim: I will definitely use this money for my tuition for college. I’m planning on going to a university for music, either to University of Southern California or Rice University or Kansas University. So I want to use this money to help pay for my tuition.
Ashiah Scharaga can be reached at [email protected] or @AshiahD on Twitter.