Dads of the Lou: Meet David Kim, Assistant Principal Cellist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

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1) What musical instrument do you play? How did you get started playing?

Cello player here! I actually got dragged into my first cello lesson by my mother when I was 4-years-old. All I wanted to do back then was kick soccer balls all day. I had zero desire to learn anything about the cello. Over time, obviously, things changed!

2) Tell us about auditioning for the SLSO – what was that like?

Auditioning for the SLSO is like trying to do both sprints and a marathon. When it’s your turn to play, you only have a few minutes. So you have to hit the ground running, executing successfully right off the bat. Semi-final, final, and chamber music rounds often happen in one day. This is something you most certainly need to pace yourself for. It is not uncommon for these audition days to begin early in the morning and conclude late at night. What a lot of folks don’t know is that it is very taxing for the audition committee, as well. Imagine listening to the same 5 minutes of music over and over for hours, days even. It is a grind!

3) Tell us about your family!

I am married to my beautiful wife, Nadine, and we have an incredible son Alex (8-years-old). My family is everything to me. I learn from them so much every day. Their happiness and well-being are the main motivators for me to do my best and be the best person/husband/father I can be. 

4) Tell us about the moment you first became a dad. What was that like?!

Nothing anyone told me could have fully prepared me for the first feelings of fatherhood when Alex was born. I instantly fell deeply in love with another human that I had just met. An overwhelming sense of protecting him at all costs was immediate as well. Joy, connection, thankfulness, humility are feelings that come to mind.

5) Does your son play musical instruments?

Alex plays the cello and recently started taking piano lessons as well! He started cello when he was five. People ask me all the time if I am his teacher. Nope! He has an incredible cello teacher, Tara Santiago, at the Community Music School’s Suzuki program. I greatly admire her. Alex has learned so much from her, and I definitely have, too!

6) Where do you see yourself in five years? Any unfulfilled dreams?

Unfulfilled dreams? Nope. I’m living my dream, and I’m going to keep doing it. I have an awesome family and a very blessed musical life. But I will be bracing myself in five years when Alex enters his teenage years. Pretty sure karma is going to pay me back!

7) Any hidden talents or hobbies?

In pre-COVID life, I spent almost all my waking time with my cello. Practice, rehearsing, performing, teaching, etc. With the very little time I had left, I would spend some at The Center of Clayton lifting weights in their Power Lifting Room. Fellow SLSO cellist James Czyzewski (also a daddy!) lifts there, too! There’s even a group of SLSO musicians who have put together a powerlifting meet for the last couple of years.

8) What do you love most about STL? What do you absolutely loathe?

Something that I love about STL is the variety of styles of pizza. My current favorite is the Neapolitan style at Pastaria. But I absolutely loathe STL style pizza! (ducks)

David Kim, Assistant Cellist for the SLSO, with his wife and son.9) What is the most surprising thing about fatherhood?

How quickly a young person can grow. Physically, intellectually, emotionally, and in Alex’s case, musically, too. Especially during this current global pandemic, I’ve been observing Alex with a front-row seat. He’s incredible. Just soaks up everything that comes his way. Absolutely amazing.

10) What’s your personal passion or cause?

Teaching. When Alex started cello almost four years ago, I began to develop a real interest in teaching. Helping and guiding others to be better cellists, better musicians, and ultimately better people is my personal passion. There is so much we can learn from music. Discipline, expression, patience, acceptance, collaboration, responsibility, integrity, passion, the list goes on and on.

 
 
 

A native of Dallas, Texas, David Kim started playing the cello at the age of four. After deciding to pursue a career in music, he received his Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. While at Juilliard on full scholarship, he studied with Harvey Shapiro. Other teachers included Ronald Leonard, Stephen Geber, and David Finckel. During his time in New York, Kim performed various solo and chamber concerts at Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, and at the Kosciusko Foundation for the Violoncello Society of New York. He also served as Principal Cellist of the Juilliard Orchestra and with the New York String Orchestra under Jaime Laredo.

Kim joined the St. Louis Symphony in 1999, appointed by the late Hans Vonk. He was named Assistant Principal Cellist of the STL Symphony in 2014. Recent chamber music performances outside of Powell Hall include concerts at the Pulitzer Foundation, Saint Louis Art Museum, Innsbrook Institute, and Sheldon Concert Hall. Kim also works extensively with the Community Music School of Webster University and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

A St. Louisan for 14 years, he enjoys golfing, following baseball, grilling steaks, and spending time with his son, Alexander, and his wife, flutist Nadine Hur.

Kim plays on an 1810 Joseph Panormo cello.

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