The Californian

Minju Kim flexes her piano skills

Gifted junior performed at Carnegie Hall over the summer

Minju+Kim+practices+for+hours+on+end%2C+working+toward+her+next+achievement.+She+has+received+much+acclaim+for+her+talent%2C+including+playing+at+Carnegie+Hall+in+New+York+City.
Minju Kim practices for hours on end, working toward her next achievement. She has received much acclaim for her talent, including playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Minju Kim practices for hours on end, working toward her next achievement. She has received much acclaim for her talent, including playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Photo courtesy of Minju Kim

Photo courtesy of Minju Kim

Minju Kim practices for hours on end, working toward her next achievement. She has received much acclaim for her talent, including playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Lorela Cabral and Jasmine Wu

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Some Cal High students think that reciting a speech in front of their class is nerve wracking.

Imagine playing piano in front of a hundreds of people in one of the world’s most famous venues.

This is what junior Minju Kim experienced this summer when she performed at world famous Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the American Fine Arts Festival (AFAF).

Kim tried out for the June festival by recording a piano performance. She was one of the 30 participants selected to fly to New York and perform on stage.

The process of entering at the festival to playing at Carnegie Hall took  two months, but it was worth it.

Carnegie was not one of the first concerts in which Kim has performed, it was typical of her to feel a little anxious.

“I always get kind of scared at any of my concerts, but it gets better once I start playing,” Kim said. “Overall, the experience was very inspiring to me because I get to see other people who have the same interest.”

Kim played  Debussy’s Prelude “Feux d’artifice” (The Fireworks), a beautiful five-minute piece which is said to be very difficult and complicated.

The AFAF is one of Kim’s many accomplishments. Kim also earned this year a Certificate of Merit panel title, an award that is statewide.

After Kim’s performance at Carnegie Hall, she toured New York City for two more nights, visiting many famous sites such as the Metropolitan Museum.

“I was kind of nervous, but [the experience] was still super fun because I got to tour NYC,” Kim said.

Kent Johnson, Kim’s jazz ensemble teacher, was pleasantly surprised when he learned that Kim played at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s nice to have students do things outside my classroom and bring the experience back into the classroom,” said Johnson.

Johnson said Kim was already a good pianist when she first joined his class and that she is a natural. The one word he used to describe Kim was “fabulous.”

Kim was first encouraged  by her parents to play piano. She has been playing for a total of 11 years.

“I wanted her to be able to express herself through music,” said her father Young Kim, who was part of the audience when she played at Carnegie Hall. “I felt very proud.”

Performing at Carnegie Hall required a great amount of skill and Kim’s dad was pleasantly surprised that his daughter had come this far as a pianist. It took a great amount of effort for Kim to reach the achievements that she has accomplished.

In the past, Kim practiced every day. Now that she’s busy with school again, practicing regularly is a struggle, but she still makes an effort to play as often as she can.

Trying to fit piano into her daily life is consuming enough. To top it all off, Kim is taking all AP and honors classes. She also plays piano for Cal’s jazz ensemble.

Kim has a lot on her plate, but her piano instructor Erna Gulabyan said she has no problem focusing and staying on task.

“Her ability to concentrate and her intelligence are her top qualities,” said Gulabyan, who has taught Kim for three years. “You can be very talented, but if you can’t use your brain, or if you can’t focus for more than five minutes, you won’t accomplish much.”

Gulabyan said it wasn’t hard for Kim to prepare for Carnegie Hall because she learns quickly and makes remarkable progress.

“I’m very proud of Minju’s accomplishments,” said Gulabyan, who has had other students perform at the AFAF. “She is one of the best students I have.”

Kim is considering minoring in piano in college, but she doesn’t think she wants to pursue a career as a pianist in the future. Whichever path she decides to take, she will be able to use this rare opportunity and experience as a memory from which to learn and grow.

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Minju Kim flexes her piano skills