“May I ask what you look like?”

It was such a simple question.  And it opened a whole world of thought and contemplation for me.  The woman that I take weekly hikes with is blind, and as we navigate the trails, we chat.  Last week, as we powered through the hot, sticky monsoon summer heat, she so sweetly asked me “죄송하지만, 아리아나가 어떻게 생겼어요?” – “May I ask what you look like?”  Of course – she’s never seen me.  I was embarrassed to realize, only then, how much I take being sighted for granted.  As I told her about my mixed race background, my chestnut hair and “round” eyes, I couldn’t help but think about how in many ways, the ability to see is a gift, yet might be at the core of racial discrimination.  If sight wasn’t a sense that most humans possessed, what would our impression of other cultures and races be?  Would we be more tolerant?  If we couldn’t see the shape of one’s eyes, the color of one’s skin, the texture of one’s hair, or the attire they dawn, how might we be?  Or can the same biases be learned through the other four senses?  As our world – and particularly the United States – continues to wake up to cultural injustice and bias, it begs the question of how much we decide with our eyes.

I’ve just hit the 4-month mark of being here in Seoul and in this overwhelmingly homogenous place, I look entirely non-Korean to most Koreans.  I suppose I have my mama’s blond hair and blue eyes to thank for my ambiguous appearance, but it’s not uncommon here for people to do a double-take when the see me, refer to me as “외국인” – “foreigner,” or ask right away where I come from.  I never take offense to it and happily engage in conversations about visiting Korea from the States, but it certainly makes me think about racial identity (for me particularly, feeling very white and very Asian at the same time) and how much hinges on what we see.  Though I’ve only had a glimpse into the world of people who are blind through this work over the last few months, I’ve been struck by how kind, appreciative, accepting, and powerful the community is.  I went down a mini rabbit hole on this idea and found this interesting interview/study on race and seeing from the Boston Globe – if nothing else, just good brain food for us to chew on…

The hiking crew, my partner “Double Sevens” second on the right.

On a perhaps-not-unrelated note, I’ve also been fascinated by modern Korean culture as of late, observing a superpower country that often has opposing forces at play.  It is a stunningly beautiful country with a complex and rich history.  From my perspective, I see a society that is at once very Western yet has immense pride for its cultural past.  It is a world where excellence, competition, and status are at the forefront of societal expectations, yet there is little room for innovative creativity and going off-trail.  There are holdovers from the deeply traditional Joseon dynasty alongside the pressures of a modern world, particularly with regard to gender roles and class.  I feel the importance of family and generational lineage, yet learned just the other day that the ROK has the lowest birthrate in the world.  It is a place where appearance and maintaining beauty is key, but diligence and productivity are taught as a non-negotiable.  There is great sentimentality for savoring the past, while “instant” culture with services like Coupang Rocket make Amazon Prime look like a snail.  Male K-Pop stars wear abundant makeup but the LGBTQ community here is nearly invisible.  As I jumped into a modern culture class at the start of this month, we started to explore some of these very topics; gyerogi abojee families, “manager mom” culture, world-famous plastic surgery centers, and the increase of millennial women in the workforce.  It’s been captivating to see the many sides of society, and to appreciate the yin and yang of what makes the world go ’round.  For those curious about some of the articles we’ve been looking at, feel free to click away:

On gyerogi abojee culture

On education

And…

As I continue to try and soak up as much as I can while I’m here (where’s the “pause” button?), here’s a quick update on the last 6 weeks.  The end of the semester last month was followed by 2 weeks at “gayaguem camp” (think band camp but with ancient instruments!), a quick trip to Jejudo (Korea’s Hawaii) – where I had the chance to visit my auntie and summit Hallasan, a massive, inactive volcano – lots of studying (two short summer courses), and practicing around the clock to get ready for my upcoming concerts (why doesn’t my bow work today?).

In just a few days – with the unexpected restart of my summer festivals – I’ll be heading back overseas for a month and a half in the States and Italy.  Along with the stifling heat (heat indexes here hit 110 degrees often these days), humidity and monsoon rain, things here have also taken a turn for the worse with the pandemic.  The combination of the Delta variant and Korea being behind with vaccines have made the case load soar – and we’ve gone into a near-lockdown – apparently the strictest in all 19 months.  Schools have closed, no more than 2 people are allowed to gather anywhere after 6pm, and masks at all times.  Alas, it seems that my departure has come at a perfect time.  (Whole Foods cheese mongers, I’m on my way!)  Can we make some calls to see that things are back to normal when I get back in September?  헐.  Autumn in Korea is spectacular, so second semester will be something to look forward to =)

이경선 교수님, 김민지 교수님, 허효정 교수님께, 서울대 학기말 리사이틀들을 하느라고 수고 많이 하셨습니다 ~ 축하합니다!  덕훈 큰아빠께, 저한테 항상 친절하는 게 정말 고맙습니다.  영옥 고모, 우리 아름다운 서귀포 해수욕장에 갔던 날이 대단했습니다 ~ 요즘에도 계속 많이 드세요!  우리 서울 “교수 팀,” 지난 주에 두번째 티타임 파티가 진짜 재미있고 저는 박교수님과 조교수님의 판소리 “공연”을 절대 잊지 않을 것입니다 ^^ 승안이, 지은이에게, 내 남길 가방들이 보관해 주셔서 미리 고맙습니다 ~ 계산서를 기다릴거야 ^^ 여러분, 구월에 또 만날거예요!

And, as always, a photo diary…

Post-recital with SNU colleagues and students at the Performing Arts Center
My “gayageum camp” hosts – too adorable.

More cooking class time!
Taking a nighttime stroll along the beautiful ‘cheongyicheon’ water walkway =)
Getting some on-trail therapy for some neck pain (my hiking partner is a retired acupuncturist and she worked wonders!)…

…and my last hiking day with my beloved Joon puppy…he had to leave last week to go meet his “wife” in LA =)
GARLIC LIFE.

Went to hang out with some beautiful flowers, bears, and other creatures at Seoul Grand Park & Arboretum…

  

Attending a ‘pansori’ opera and post-concert dinner with renowned gayageumist Jocelyn Clark!

Hello Jejudo!

Beach day…complete with an auntie-made picnic =)

Hiking Hallasan, its ancient lava rock paths, and the view from the top…

My Jejudo auntie, one of the most pure-hearted and special people on the planet.

Online family and friends time…my annual Crocs shopping date with Alma and a Father’s Day “party”…
Study time…I hope I don’t forget all the new Korean I learned while I’m away =/

My amazing teacher showing me the ropes…literally.
Newly re-soled climbing shoes (with the wicked heat, climbing was all indoors this month!)

 

Gatherings with friends and fam – this last pic is my dad’s two best friends from middle school!

Jangma! Monsoon season is real…
…and the beauty after the storms…

Giving a couple of house concerts…

…and summer market life.

Until next time…

Hello, Gayageum

2.5 months in the ROK has flown by.  I wish there was a way to pause time.  I met the gayageum last month and I’m entirely smitten.  Though the original centerpiece of my coming here for sabbatical was a fellowship to study ancient traditional and folk music, it was canceled due to, well, you know.  So, through the generosity of friends at the National Gugak Center I’ve since been able to craft my own course, diving deep into the world of sanjo study and performance practice.  It’s a fascinating instrument with a long history that exists both in the world of court music and folk music, played by plucking with the right hand, sighing, crying, and vibrating with the left.  My studies are now focused on the 12-string sanjo gayageum (one string for each month of the year) with moveable bridges meant to mimic the foot of a wild goose, girogyi.  Though my relationship with this new creature is young (with fresh blisters from the hours per day practice to boot!) I see a long-term relationship in the making…

The spring semester here is nearly complete, and my students at SNU are prepping for their last performance exams and recitals this coming week.  I’m blown away every week by the level of playing here, the intense dedication to hard work, and the humility of each and every one of the students.  I took my own final exams last week, and I have to admit there was something oddly comforting about it.  I’ve been diving into traditional cooking classes each weekend (making tofu from scratch is mega cool) and trying to write from scratch or translate a new poem per day.  Isn’t it ironic that the older we get the more we want to learn, yet the harder it is to do?

Doing my best to soak up as much as I can while I’m here, I’ve loved playing tourist, visiting Namsan Tower, the National Museum, (a perfect pair to my history course) and the super famous Noryangjin Fish Market.  It doesn’t get much fresher than selecting your live fish at the market and then having it cleaned and sent directly upstairs to the restaurants for instant preparation.  A trip to Surisan with my climbing club for some fabulous outdoor crag climbing was how we celebrated Buddha’s birthday.

Perhaps the highlight of the last month was a trip to my favorite place on earth, a little country house set amidst our family’s ginkgo tree farm in Gangwon province.  The soft mountains set against the crystal clear brook that runs behind the hand-crafted cottage bring tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  Time away from the city, far from the air pollution, with family and friends, complete with a picnic to feed royalty and an outdoor recital of Bach and bluegrass ~ another reason to pause time.

Two beautifully unexpected surprises came my way as well since I last wrote: befriending a lovely elderly neighbor in my building who happens to be the owner of a crazy adorable 5-month-old jindo puppy – who looks almost identical to my childhood pup, Sandy – has led to almost daily walks and training exercises together.  And, through this friendship, I was introduced to an incredible volunteering group that helps lead hikes for people who are blind, through the Namsan dullegil each week.  Each volunteer attaches a short rope to their backpack, and we slowly lead our partners through the hike, verbalizing upcoming territory as they follow.  My partner is a tiny, power-packed force of goodness, and at 77, hikes those paths with fervor that would put most young adults to shame.

And lastly, I’ve just learned that, thanks to the swift vaccine rollout in the States and the opening of EU borders, my summer festival season is ON!  So, though it’ll be hard to leave, I’ll be heading back to the States (CA, MN) and to Italy (my festival in Tuscany) for the month of August to play my first live concerts to in-person audiences in more than a year!

Some musings:

Perhaps it’s typical when living abroad, or just a sign that I’m getting older, I find myself often pondering life’s biggest, unanswerable questions.  I came across this cool article on the art of decision-making – it’s worth the read, if you’ve got the time:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/21/the-art-of-decision-making

조유회 선생님께 영감을 주는 가야금 수업을 정말 고맙습니다 ~ 매일 마다 열심히 연습 하려고 노력하는 중이에요.  덕훈 큰아버지께 저한테 남산 타워와 국립박물관을 보여 주셔서 대단히 고맙습니다 ~ 큰아빠가 화요일에 백신을 맞는게 저는 너무 행복합니다!  영옥 고모와 고모부, 승안이와 지은이, 아름다운 강원도 여행을 고맙습니다 ~ 그 날 대한 자주 생각합니다.  성봉 아저씨, 생선회랑 게 점심 요리 해 주셔서 감사합니다 ~ 전 가치가 없습니다 ^^  경옥 선생님께 다음 주에 남산 둘레길에서 또 만날거예요 ^^

And as always, some pics from this wild ride…

Let bootcamp begin!  Man, I should have started this when I was a kid…

Let’s get cookin’…

SNU end-of-semester rehearsals and concerts…

Tourist days with my great uncle – National Museum, Namsan Tower, palace tours, and FISHIES!
POOCH!
A side-by-side of Joon (the new pup) and Sandy (my childhood dog) – what!?

Meeting the founder of 에스 카사 (a little article was written about me…ㅎ)

 

Family time in Gangwon-do…(my uncle built that incredible treehouse!)
And all 3 girls found 4-leaf clovers!  That has to be good luck, right!?
Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Happy Birthday, Buddha!
Weekend lunch party with the fam…

The volunteers + partners hiking crew!

And my fabulous partner – she calls herself “Double Sevens” – a phrase that she learned to describe her age in her English class. Love.
And a little outdoor recital…

Until next time…

Korean Quarantine Chronicles + Seoul Life

Well, to put it bluntly, it was rough.  Apparently I am not built for 14 straight days in a 15×15 room with awful food and zero access to the outdoors.  From the cheez-whiz sandwiches to the yelling (lots of yelling) to the cockroaches I found in my room, it was solid material for some Kafka-esque nightmares and a private meltdown or two.  Though I knew it was a possibility that I’d be hauled off to a government facility, my hopes went sky-high when the first four of five checkpoint stations at ICN Customs went well – I was ready to go to my apartment for the mandatory quarantine – but the man at the fifth and final stop reversed their decisions and I was tagged and put on an unmarked bus to an unknown destination more than 2 hours away.

I tried my best to stay sane with my study books, a giant New Yorker puzzle, blanket knitting, mask sewing, practicing (during the few hours that “noise” was permitted) and a workout routine in the tiny yoga-mat-shaped space at the foot of my bed would allow, but I’m not sure I succeeded.  Doing my taxes seemed like additional cruel and unusual punishment; the lack of creative and inspiring space (aka fresh oxygen) made the idea of embarking on editing my new album a dangerous endeavor.  So, I did the best I could, amidst a case of full-body stress hives, counting down every hour until freedom came ringing.  At the price of $2K one would think perhaps a walk each day – even if masked and distanced – and good food might be in order as no takeout is permitted, but no.  Sadly, though Korea is a leader in virus mitigation, contact tracing, and compliance, they’re way behind with vaccine rollout, which makes it tricky for those who are fully vaccinated being looked at with amended restrictions.

But, I suppose the silver lining is that it made my first walk outdoors and my first real meal even more divine.  I had to remind myself that this was part of the privilege of being able to live abroad during this time, and that there are many people on this planet without food or shelter.  And, I had a few “angels” who managed to sneak some special life-saving snacks into the facility for me ~ something I’ll be forever grateful.

And then came freedom.  My dear cousin made the trek down from the city to rescue me and we spent my first glorious day together eating heavenly, home-cooked food, and taking long walks outside.  It was like being reborn.

I’ve just hit the one-month mark of Seoul life, and it is grand.  A bustling city that is all at once deeply Korean and remarkably Western amazes me by its sparkling subway stations, fiercely abiding citizenry, and an abundance of delectable cuisine.  Everyone waits patiently in single-file lines to board the trains, and escalators – no matter how narrow – always leave room for one clearly standing line on the right, and one passing lane on the left.  It’s wonderfully adventurous to be living in an environment that feels so foreign yet so at-home.  Life is nearly normal here, with businesses open and live concerts (remember those?) nightly.  Except for one thing – 100% compliance: I have, to this day, never seen a single person out in public – no matter if outdoors or in (unless eating) – without a mask.  Funny how things can be so different when an entire population believes in science.

My master class series as a visiting teaching artist at Seoul National University began just 48 hours after my release from quarantine and has been a dream ever since.  The students are kind, engaged, and world-class musicians.  The facilities are fabulous, and set at the foothills of Gwanaksan mountain, the campus is rather breathtaking.  I’m also on the study train myself to learn more about the history and culture of my ancestors (on the docket this week is gender standards from the Joseon Dynasty to present) and to kick my language skills into high gear (perhaps my 2nd-grade Korean will ascend to 3rd grade soon!) – how cool and bizarre it is to be taking notes and writing essays again, just like old times.  The forever-nerd in me is loving living in the joy of fresh notebooks, new pens, and study guides.  Next month I begin my study of traditional music, art, and dance at the National Gugak Center – the centerpiece of my choosing Seoul as my sabbatical home base.  The Center is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, and I was able to catch their opening festival performance – it was mesmerizing.

It’s a beautiful time right now as the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the temperature is warm during the day and cool in the evenings.  The pollution can be a bit rough, but thanks to a few amazing phone apps, one can track the air quality so quickly and easily before heading outdoors.  Street markets are full with fresh fruit and vegetables and Coupang (Korea’s Amazon) makes nearly instant delivery a total luxury.

Job one after moving into my apartment was to find a place to climb.  After scouting out a bouldering gym in my very neighborhood and a fabulous big-wall gym out in the suburbs, I managed to get adopted by a wonderful and international climbing community – with whom I went last week to climb one of the most glorious peaks in Korea: a 2,700-foot, 8-pitch trad route to the summit of Insubong in Bukhansan National Park.  It was epic.

I’ll leave you here with a couple of fascinating articles I’ve come across in my studies and, as always, a photo diary.

제 정부 자가격리 천사들에게 ~
박선주 교수님, 조희금 교수님, 신선한 과일과 야체와 맛이있는빵을 보내주셔서 종말 감사드립니다.  유영미 교수님, 재미있는 한국어 연습 미팅을 고맙습니다.  김권식 대표님, 이상원 감독님이 소개를 하셔서 감사드립니다 ~ 저희 카톡 방이 아주 재미있습니다.  승안이와 지은이, 쿠팡 간식 택배 없이는 살 수 없었어요.  우리 부모님도 매일 통화들 미소짓게 했습니다…화이팅!

Hugs from Hongdae,

from The New Yorker: About Face
from The University of California Press: Women in Choseon Korea

The morning of…10 months of life in 4 bags + a violin ^^
Basil (and me) getting spoiled cashing in on a global upgrade ^^
Hello ROK!

My very sad quarantine meals (this was daily lunch)…
And my even sadder view…(at least there was a window!)
And…my new…friends?

Trying to keep busy…

Special snacks snuck in by behind-the-scenes angels kept me alive…and FaceTime with Alma too ^^

…and then…FREEDOM! My amazing cousins Seung-An and Ji-Eun who rescued me and made me the most incredible celebration meal of all time.

My amazing uncle who helped me learn the ropes of the city, complete with killer lunch meals…

Starting work at SNU, some of the wonderful students I’m coaching here ^^
The most organized subway waiting platform I’ve ever seen…(NYC, let’s take some lessons)
My professor angel crew, sharing tea and desserts at Prof. Cho’s apartment =)

Figuring out how to cook at home on my teeny tiny stove…

Eating my way through the best restaurants in town…
And even found a way to stash some Minnesota wild rice in my suitcases for a little hometown comfort food =)

The super cool big-wall climbing gym outside the city…
Sunset on the Han River

Cherry blossom time!

My first live, indoor concert in 15 months – totally riveting.

A most incredible performance of traditional Korean music and dance – an after-show pic with the Director Lee’s family ^^

And these are the alerts we get on our phones when the air pollution is bad: red is bad, black is the worst…yowza!

And some more Minnesota love, hanging with Erin Keefe at a concert of the Seoul Philharmonic where hubby Osmo Vänska is now music director!

And the epic climb…2,700 feet of glorious granite.

And the view from the top!

Album #2, Glaude’s “Begin Again” & Moving to the Motherland

Album #2 is in the can: an exploration into the world of improvisation through two different lenses – Mozart and Beethoven sonatas (tuned down to 435 on gut strings with fortepiano) on the one hand, and world folk music for violin and percussion on the other.  Through masks and more distance than most musicians really care for, we made it to the last take of the record with Leszek Wojcik in the engineering booth.  Roger Moseley, a brilliant musicologist and inventive fortepianist joined me as my partner in crime for the first half of the album, while Shane Shanahan, celebrated percussionist and composer, joined for the second.  Traversing through two masterpieces of the classical era alongside 13-beat Bulgarian folk tunes and jog-inspired compositions by Shane himself brought about an incredibly vivid symbiosis: improvising in the slow movement of a Mozart sonata somehow inspires how I might unfold an improvised Alap and vice versa.  I couldn’t help but think about how such an observation can be useful in navigating life these days…

It is with gratitude to my friend Bill Manning for introducing me to this deeply provocative and important book that I share with you Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s Begin Again.  I imagine many are already familiar with this work, but for those for whom it’s new, it’s a journey through James Baldwin‘s America and how that journey parallels – in many cases far too closely – our America of today.  It begs that we take a look at the temperature and attitudes of the 1960s and recognize how little true progress we’ve made as a nation with regard to civil and human rights.  It asks the reader – no matter how uncomfortable and sticky it feels – to evaluate their role in our current world, checking privilege, “done good-ism,” and innocence at the door.  Glaude even asks us to evaluate our own reflections in the mirror of othering and hate that, until last month, were at the core of our leadership in Washington.  This passage, as Glaude paraphrases Baldwin’s approach to his activism and writing, stood out to me above all others:

“…the unexamined life was not worth living.  To live and move about the world without questioning how the world has shaped and is shaping you is, in a way, to betray the gift of life itself.”

If I may be so bold, I highly recommend the read, and it’s good to sit in that sticky space while you’re in the thick of it.

And on a mildly related topic, in just a few short days, I’ll be moving to Korea for the rest of the year!  After what seems like countless emails and visits to the Consulate, an FBI check (phew), the collecting of precious American goodies (Deep River chips are top on the list), packing and re-packing my three overly heavy suitcases, it’s nearly time for me to jump into this new adventure.  On sabbatical from Cornell, I’ll be living and working in Seoul, studying ancient Korean traditional music, serving as a guest teaching artist at Seoul National University, spending time with family, and leaning into the culture, language, and daily life on the ROK.  Growing up a mixed-race kid in St. Paul, I always felt and identified as Korean, but never had the opportunity to lean deeply into my heritage; it is with great excitement, a bit of anxiety, and humility that I start this new chapter.  And, with NY State educators being included in Phase 1B, I’m fully vaccinated from COVID-19 – boy, does it make that 15-hour flight feel so much better.

The question at hand now is what my mandatory 14-day quarantine will look like.  All inbound travelers in to South Korea are required a 2-week lockdown upon arrival and though I’m vaccinated and have my own (furnished) apartment, it’s not clear whether or not the folks at ICN Customs will allow me to isolate at home or if I’ll be swept away to a government facility.  If it ends up being the latter, just in case I’ve got a bag packed with Trader Joe’s snacks, a 1000-piece puzzle, several books, a yoga mat, and my album edits to keep me from going too stir-crazy.  Fingers crossed I’ll be able to go to my apartment, but I’m prepared for plan b too.  If 2020 taught us anything, it’s how to embrace uncertainty and be ready for plans a-z.  Perhaps the Korean Quarantine Chronicles will have to be the next post here…

Finally, as I find myself doing too often in these posts, we bid farewell to Ms. Priscilla “Percy” Browning, who was a beautiful force of nature, a fixture in the Ithaca arts world, and a dear friend.  Percy was known for her love of music and theater, and her philanthropic legacy will live far beyond her years here on Earth.  We are so grateful for everything you have left us with, and may you Rest In Peace, Miss Percy!

Percy, with her beloved pup Alice at my home back in 2018 =)

And as always, photographic evidence of the latest shenanigans I’ve gotten myself into:

A pre-recording impromptu master class with Malcolm Bilson – thank you for the rehearsal space and your infinite wisdom!

Part I with Roger…
And Part II – Shane and Leszek talking mic placement (and politics, of course)…

New Year’s with the fam…

…and the deliciousness that comes with that…
Prince Daniel’s birthday – Alaskan king crab party!
VACCINATED!
Then we got some blizzards…and this is how I dealt with it =)

Giant. Snow. Cave.
Putting a little bluegrass in the can as well with colleagues Tim and Rick up in Ithaca…

Packing chaos in my tiny NYC apartment bedroom…

A little backcountry winter dinner moment with the great Matt Vosler tending to the Christmas tree bonfire…

And saying goodbye to so many beloved friends…
And with Suzy and I both fully vaxed, our very first snuggle hug in nearly a year <3

Stay safe, happy, and healthy – more to come from the other side of the globe.

A Virtual Premiere, My Fave Kimchee Recipe, & Happy 2021

It’s been a minute.  I can hardly believe a whole semester has passed since I last posted here – time seems to stand still yet fly by all at once these days.  Now 10 months into the pandemic and nearly two million lives lost worldwide, we are all faced with myriad challenges, and try to find peace and solace where we can.  As I look back on 2020 and wish it a hasty goodbye, I feel such a mix of things – gratitude for what my privilege has allowed during this time, sorrow for the suffering and loss we have all experienced and witnessed, and hope that tomorrow will bring us something better.  Happy New Year, Welcome 2021!

Though life has looked far from normal from all of us and my daily existential crisis of being a performing artist at a time when the world is standing still is very real, we all have soldiered on as best we can.  Rather than attempting to wax poetic into the already inundated world of internet reflections, I will leave you here with some highlights and the only thing that seems fitting right now: kimchee.  This is a “recipe” that I’ve played with and tweaked over the last couple of years, and have fallen in love with – it’s a combo pack of some old Kim family secrets, a couple of tricks I found online, and some good ole AK improvisation.

I’ve become obsessed with using red nappa instead of the usual – it was a gamble that I took when I found this beautiful head at the Ithaca Farmers Market earlier this fall, but turned out to be a more complex, slightly sweet, wonderfully refreshing cousin to its green relative.  Here’s the not-so-complicated gig, if you’re interested in trying it out:

Step 1 – slice one medium-large nappa head into bite-size pieces and soak in salted cold water, giving it a toss every 30-40 minutes for about 2 hours

Step 2 – in a saucepan, whisk 1 cup of water with 1/8 cup of sweet rice flour (chapsaal garu) and bring to gentle boil until viscous, about 6-7 minutes on low; sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of sugar – let that hang out and cool

Step 3 – in a food processor, throw in all the good stuff: 1/2 to 2/3 cup (depending on how spicy you like it) of Korean hot pepper flake (gochu garu), 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, 1/3 cup of fish sauce, and a tsp of fresh ginger

Step 4 – buzz that all up into a fine puree adding a little water if needed to loosen it up, then transfer to a large bowl to combine it with the cooled sweet rice mixture – fold together until totally smooth

Step 5 – drain and rinse the cabbage several times under cold running water and shake it dry, then dump it into the big bowl of goodness, coating every piece generously by hand

Step 6 – put it all in jars/containers with tight-fitting lids, place a stone or plate over it to help everything stay submerged…let it hang out on the counter for 1-2 days, then pop it in the fridge to be ready anytime =)

Fall Highlights

September brought about a very special world premiere of a multimedia piece for solo violin + spoken word in honor of George Floyd that I put together with beloved Minnesota artists Lou Bellamy, Sarah Bellamy, and Steve Heitzeg.  We were able to present it virtually, followed by a round-table discussion with the artists and our audience members.  If you weren’t able to catch it and would like to have a watch/listen, please visit the links below:

“How Many Breaths?  In Memory of George Floyd and Countless Others”

The piece itself (no password necessary):

The full event, with panel discussion (password: justiceforgeorge):

My folks came out to quarantine with me in New York for nearly 2 months, which was stellar.  I built a plexiglass barrier for my office (yes, believe it or not, Cornell wouldn’t provide one), played a drive-in bluegrass show, gave some more curbside concerts, and saw my students through their first pandemic-live recital.  I leaned into some backcountry living and my love for rock climbing grew into a mild obsession (did my first trad lead at Thanksgiving!).  Countless Zoom meetings, backyard hangs (even a surprise birthday party for Papa Kim), long walks, and improvising with my new looper pedal kept the docket healthfully engaged.  I’m now prepping for the recording of my second album, and getting ready to move to Korea for the year (!) shortly.

And, here’s a photo diary, if you’d care to have a gander…

Exploring Lake Placid, Chapel Pond, and Whiteface Mountain up in the Daks with mom and dad…

The darn cutest stone-carved bears (COVID-ready, of course) in Saranac, with a Basil photo-bomb
Governor’s Island with the folks and Keisuke!

The view from stage – playing a socially-distanced drive-in bluegrass show with my “band” at Triphammer Arts =)

Building a plexiglass barrier for my office for in-person teaching – at least I have a fall-back career now…

Outdoor hang time with friends and family – with Patty at Green Lakes Park, Erica & Ira at Montgomery Park, Nell in my backyard, and a surprise party for Papa’s birthday at chez Kim!

At the finish line – bro Daniel crafted and completed his own half marathon in honor of his late friend Devin’s scholarship foundation, DSSF!
Taking “How Many Breaths” to the streets – performing pop-up concerts in front of the Minneapolis murals following the virtual premiere…

Braved the 4-hour lines on the first day of early voting in NYC – Harlem was representing! We were even visited by Melba herself, doling out snacks and water =)

Living the backcountry life…cooking, camping, and climbing in the Daks =)

 

Climbing in the Gunks with dearest buddies Rion and Matt (thanks for catching my first trad lead, Vos!)

This is what live concerts look like pandemic-style…our studio recital and post-concert group photo. Thanks to the amazing Steve Gosling for joining us on piano!
Christmastime! My first full-size tree in my own house =)

After a negative covid test + 26-hour direct drive home, I made it home to be with my fam for the holidays…morning yoga sculpt classes with Sonja, challah French toast, and a Korean feast for Christmas Day =)

And finally, a somber farewell to a dear friend – Leslie Volker, who departed this world too suddenly.  You left House of Note in beautiful hands, and behind a legacy of spirituality, kindness, and laughter.  You will be so very missed.

With friends at my dad’s retirement party last November – Rest In Peace, lovely Leslie!

Remembering Giants

Leon

Last Sunday the world bid farewell to a musical giant – one who transformed what was possible on the piano and created a legacy as an artist, teacher, and mentor that will live on long after his years here on Earth.  Leon Fleisher was a force larger than life, most often quietly so, who commanded the stage for more than seven decades.  Through a battle with focal dystonia that left his right hand out of commission for much of his career, he returned to the stage with both hands in his mid-70s – something I was honored to witness.  I had the chance to work with him on many occasions, both in the coaching studio and on stage; from remembering his enveloping musical soul when performing Brahms together to finding myself in tears listening to him play Schubert’s late B-flat sonata during his final recital at Ravinia some years ago, I try to carry his wisdom with me always.  I quote him to my students often: when asked about his stunning command of musical timing, he said “the key is, to play at the last possible moment, without being late.”  One need not say much more.  Rest well, High Priest.

Backstage after performing the Brahms quintet with Fleisher in 2016 – his wonderful wife Katherine to his right and CMSM artists Sally Chisholm, Young-Nam Kim, Mina Smith

Bobby

July 19th was his 100th birthday.  On New Year’s Day two years ago, we said goodbye to another musical giant, Robert Mann – his 97 years bore witness to a musical career that is nearly unparalleled.  From his earliest days as a rough-and-tumble Oregon boy assigning friends to be in his first string quartet outfitted with tree branches attached to a single violin string each, to serving in the army during World War II and reading quintets with Einstein, his life was fiercely rich.  Interwoven with his venerated 51 years with the Juilliard String Quartet – creating the gold standard for Beethoven and Bartok quartets and championing new music – was his dedication to the teaching of violin and chamber music.  I was lucky enough to observe the former and take part in the latter.  Lessons often included stories about how he hears the crashing waves on the coast of the Pacific Northwest when he thinks about rhythm, or how hiking in Glacier National Park (which was one of the first dates he had with his beloved wife Lucy) can inspire one’s sense of artistic affect.  When he was out of town on studio class days, my classmates and I would set up our own sessions to perform our works-in-progress for each other, gatherings that we lovingly termed “geek class.”  My life as an artist-teacher is forever impacted by him.  I tap into his wisdom often when I’m with my own students now, and when I played my last live concert for the foreseeable future on March 8th, it was his Beethoven concerto cadenzas that I braved.  I have been diving into this dazzling collection of videos, recordings, and interviews that the Naumburg Foundation put together in honor of his 100th that his son Nicholas sent my way.  What a life worth living.  We miss you dearly, Mr. Mann.

At my Juilliard graduation, 2009
With Bobby and Lucy at their home in December 2017, just days before his passing

George

…a life cut far too short at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.  George Floyd was yes, a giant in physical stature, but his story has become a giant that has captured a city, a nation, and our globe.  I saw recently the new body cam footage from the moments leading up to his arrest: an unarmed black man pleading, respectfully, with police, not to kill him.  He was not violent nor posing a threat, yet a gun was drawn and pointed at Floyd’s head.  My heart breaks and my soul is crushed every time I see or read about a story like this – of which there are far too many to count –  and I always ask “but why?”  I watched as my hometown wept and burned, crying out for there to be, finally, meaningful action to address police violence and systemic racism that has defined our country, centuries deep.  I think often of my own experience with and role in racism, how my thoughts or actions have been skewed by my own ignorance or lack of understanding.  I have struggled with my voice here as a woman, the child of an immigrant, an artist, and an educator.  What can and what do I do through these lenses?  Demonstrate, donate, volunteer, yes.  Listen, read, discuss, yes.  Yell, cry, express, yes.  And create.  I am honored to be putting together a small multimedia piece for solo violin + spoken word in honor of George Floyd with three spellbinding Twin Cities artists: actors Lou Bellamy and Sarah Bellamy (of the newly renamed Penumbra Center for Racial Healing, formerly Penumbra Theatre) and renowned St. Paul composer Steve Heitzeg, who speaks social justice and activism through music.  Stay tuned for an online premiere coming soon.  Rest in Power, Sir George.

At the demonstrations and memorial site in Minneapolis

And for something entirely different and distractionary, here’s a little photo diary of what life in quarantine land has looked like for me over the last couple of months.  Hugs from NY.

This thing we’re calling a social life:

Hanging with my dear friend Suzy in Jackie Robinson Park, each to her own bench…
A parking lot (well, car wash bay) hang with the Family Temkin
Stopping on my cross-country road trip in Pittsburgh to see my bestie Marta

Celebrating the Goldberg’s 10th wedding anniversary
Waiting in line for the ever-so-pleasant COVID test
Zoom date Crocs shopping with my sweetie “goddaughter” Alma

And family life…I’ve been lucky enough to have been together with family for much of the lockdown =)

Daniel’s first arrival back in MN before he was freed from the mask and the basement

Visiting dear friends Nandi and Rafi’s Rocky Acres Farm – hi baby Mili!

Exploring the incredible Finger Lakes with bro Daniel and his girlfriend Nora =)

One of the greatest silver linings of the pandemic is having time to take in so much if this gorgeous green earth, both in MN and NY…

 

Jay Cook State Park, MN

(and blowing a tire on the drive up to Jay Cook…good thing I paid attention that day in driver’s ed!)

The breathtaking Robert Treman Park, Ithaca

And this has somehow become my work life…

Coaching master classes at PACO and Crowden in Cali from NYC, Zoom-style
Recording a beautiful film score by Judy Hyman with socially-distanced, masked colleagues at Pyramid Studios…

And giving curbside concerts with family and friends for our neighbors =)

My greatest claim to fame in quarantine land is my learning how to use a hammer drill and masonry bits to build a bouldering wall into the concrete block wall of my parents’ garage…the things we do once we’re bitten by the climbing bug…

Step one: power wash the garage…

Step two: get them holds and hardware in order
Step three: drill that grid…
Step four: start setting routes (and pretend to know what I’m doing)

BOOM.
Time to climb =)

I’ve discovered that my happy place these days is in the kitchen, apron on, cooking up a storm.  Here’s my “covid cookbook…”

Lobster tails in honor of Mama Kim’s birthday!

Seafood pastas have been a serious staple…

Veggie side dishes…pasta pie, roasted roots, and zucchini medallions

Mushroom and asparagus risotto and seared broccoli rabe…

Thanksgiving in May!

Chicken & eggplant parm with pesto fusilli

Korean bibimbop night!
My first attempt at Hawaiian poke bowls…

…and sweets! Baking muffins, chocolate cake, peanut butter cake (thanks, Molly!) from scratch and mango sticky rice (with fresh Florida mangoes FedExed overnight)…

And Papa Kim’s annual farming expedition…mulberry jam from the berries in our backyard =)

Korean BBQ night!
And cheddar, chive, and scallion egg scramble with Rocky Acre Farm eggs!

That’s all for now.  Now it’s off to wrap my brain around how to teach this semester…Cornell is reopening in just three short weeks and there’s a mountain of uncertainty to climb!  To all of you and your friends and family, stay safe and healthy.

Making Masks + Musical Hugs from MN

As this moment in time brings our country and our globe to its knees, all of us are adjusting to a new, hopefully temporary, normal.  For so many of us, life has gone from 1000mph to 0mph, nearly overnight.  With artists from coast-to-coast without work, small business owners facing bankruptcy, children without school meals, and those on the front lines enduring heartbreak and frustration, perhaps the only thing to do is lean into the goodness of silver linings and find small ways to help.

So, this is my new project: sewing CDC-approved masks for medical staff at local hospitals.  I’m an entirely novice seamstress (up until this point I hadn’t sewn more than a hem or button), but this opportunity has been my silver lining to learn a new skill that can be put to use for those in need.  If anyone reading this is interested in joining the “sewing army,” click here to get information on the pattern and delivery locations.

The mask-making begins…getting started…
…adding pieces of Dupont-96 HEPA filter to the inside of each mask – brings it close to the efficacy of an N-95…
…all packed up and ready for deliveries!

I’m lucky to be home, hunkering with my parents in a warm home with plenty of food and music to fill the air.  As mama and I become whizzes at giving lessons and studio classes on Zoom, papa and I work on building a garage bouldering wall (my other new obsession with rock climbing has created a crazy home project), and each morning is filled with lots of sewing, there is much gratitude to be felt.  Siestas have become a daily occurrence, happy hour seems to start a bit earlier each afternoon, and an appreciation for the little things has become large.

And, if anyone would like a break from the news stream and wants to escape into Ariana-land for a few moments, below is a musical hug – a little solo Bach as meditation (please excuse the lo-fi, iPhone mic situation – I’m a tech simpleton), and a photo diary of my last couple of months.  Last is a stunning poem by Pablo Neruda – here’s to better days ahead:

My first trip to Sydney for my dear childhood friend Alice’s wedding!

Omg – did I just MEET A KOALA!?  An incredible visit to an Australian wildlife conservation refuge…

Dinner parties with dear friends up in Ithaca, ah yes, the before-times…
A happy and unexpected hang with baby bro in NYC =)
Tweaking my kimchee recipe…

Cornell residency with Arun Ramamurthy, diving into the world of Carnatic music…
Playing Ljova’s “Out of Leftovers” concert series at Symphony Space Bar Thalia on 96th…

Performing Haydn’s “Seven Last Words” with CMSM artists and esteemed actor/narrator, Lou Bellamy.

Catching my dear friend Ian’s CD release show with his group, Sandbox Percussion =)

Attending Jordan Casteel’s talk and gallery opening with Miku (that’s him in the painting!) at the New Museum – completely inspiring.

Happy Baby Shower, Nandi! Can’t wait to meet Little Lady Aponte soon =)

Performing the Beethoven concerto with Kiki Kilburn and the fabulous students of the Cornell Chamber Orchestra – this was unknowingly my last concert, for the foreseeable future…
Post-concert walk on the Cornell Arts Quad with Papa Kim…

…and our last normal weekend…enjoying friends in San Diego =)
Four generations of Kims – great-great auntie and baby Hyunoo in LA =)

Basil, my model for the child-size mask, and me…definitely a missed career opportunity as a bandit model.

And here we are – bare shelves and social-distancing picnics in the car…(this one’s for you, Alma!)…

With love, a poem by Pablo Neruda:

Ode to Hope

Oceanic dawn
at the center
of my life,
waves like grapes,
the sky’s solitude,
you fill me
and flood
the complete sea,
the undiminished sky,
tempo
and space,
sea foam’s white
battalions,
the orange earth,
the sun’s
fiery waist
in agony,
so many
gifts and talents,
birds soaring into their dreams,
and the sea, the sea,
suspended
aroma,
chorus of rich, resonant salt,
and meanwhile,
we men,
touch the water,
struggling,
and hoping,
we touch the sea,
hoping.

And the waves tell the firm coast:
‘Everything will be fulfilled.’

A Brahms Cycle, Ne(x)tworks Reunion, Canadian Knights, & Bangkok Residency

2020’s arrival has come and gone, and it feels like the last couple of months have flown by with such speed that they melted together in some sort of Dali-esque landscape.  Speaking of melting, it’s 96 degrees here in Bangkok.  I’m finishing up a beautiful residency of master classes and recital featuring the world premiere of a new multimedia piece by Cornell DMA composer Piyawat Louilarpprassert at the P. Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music.  I’m dipping my toe (probably just one of them for now) into the world of my new looper pedal and will do a little premiere of that dippage tonight as well…and it’s with this at hand that I took a moment to reflect on life since I last posted here.

I can’t resist starting this entry with these two pics – I arrived two days early in Bangkok in order to take a trip to an elephant sanctuary in Western Thailand where people help care for elephants rescued from logging and circus training abuse…elephants have long been my spirit animal, but getting to be with them in this way was entirely life-changing.

Late October was a Ne(x)tworks farewell inside a Knights sandwich.  My beloved new music ensemble, Ne(x)tworks (of which I was a member for 10 years, from 2005-2015) hung up its hat for good and bid farewell with a reunion concert at Issue Project Room, complete with an installation of Cage’s Song Books, some Cornelius Cardew, Jon Gibson, and works by the brilliant composer-performers from within the group.  It was a blast to be back together, and a beautiful send-off complete with members and guests past-and-present.  The Knights were also in full-swing that week, working on a project combining dance + live music with BalletCollective at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center down in DUMBO.  My MetroCard got a hard workout during that stretch for sure.

Back up to Cornell I went to see my brilliant students and take in the first ice storm of the season.  It was then a game of Ithaca-Minneapolis tag with a CMSM concert plus a recital of the full Brahms violin sonata cycle with pianist Kyung Kim and jumping back east to teach in-between.  Oh yea, and we managed to throw my dad a surprise retirement party somewhere in there too!  Good thing I’ve sold my soul to Delta…

With Thanksgiving somewhere in the middle, The Knights hit the road with a tour of Hunter, Washington, D.C., Montreal, and NYC in a special program entitled “Homage to Bach” during which each member of the small group stepped forward to play movements of solo Bach and/or duos, trios, and quartets by those he inspired.  The concert at the Montreal Bach Festival was particularly memorable, especially considering the ridiculous number of Fairmount bagels I ate after the show (don’t worry, New York, my loyalty still lies with you)…

My students gave a killer recital at Ithaca’s Carriage House (my favorite place to play up there, no doubt) to close out the semester and then it was off to California for my annual volunteer trip to work with Scott Krijnen’s kiddos at Castillero Middle.  Lucky for me, there was an explosion of little cherubs born to those near and dear to me just before I departed, so I got lots of baby time after work each day.

Christmas was a lovely family affair complete with tons of cooking and even more eating (though my lame immune system gave out and I fought the flu for most of it).  Then it was off to New Year’s Eve in Seoul with my cousins, Bangkok for this residency, and tomorrow I fly south to Sydney to celebrate a dear childhood friend Alice’s nuptials down under…a bluegrass show back in Ithaca in a few days feels half a world away.  Literally.

And here we go, photo time!

Can I just say how much I love early voting!?
In-between Knights concerts with my lovely former students and friends Angela & Amit

Ne(x)tworks reunion time…”Song Books” and loving on the great Joan La Barbara

The whole crew post-show at IPR
Brahms time @ the University of Minnesota and then a surprise retirement party for Papa Kim (cuz he’d boycott if we did it any other way)…

Dvorak @ CMSM with the return of our beloved guest artist Nobuko Imai
Selfie time with Andrew Ousley at Unison Media’s fabulous winter arts salon…
…and…gutter cleaning. Ah, the joys of homeownership.

Thanksgiving! My NYC kitchen did me right – spent the weekend with Ieva, Chris, and Alma

Montreal Bach Festival concert and post-show with old friends Andrew and Esme…
…and, famous Fairmount Bagels, circa 1am…
Cornell Fall 2019 Studio Recital!

Meeting my new cousin, baby Emmett…the first 2nd-gen kiddo of our Kim fam!
…and meeting little Elliot, Andrea’s new little one!
…meeting little Madeline (that’s proud big sis Olivia)

Castillero time with Scott and the Rankins, plus dinner at the Innekens’ to honor the newest recipient of Corry’s cello

The famous Mann holiday chamber music party.  We miss you, Bobby!

Family Christmastime – mama and I made Korean food for a small army…
One spoiled bear. Basil flying in style to Korea…

NYE in Seoul!

New Year’s Day feast prepared by my dear cousins and then some ice skating!

Exploring the National Gugak Museum

Bangkok Residency with Piyawat and students from Aum Aree and PGVIM

At the elephant sanctuary – a baby that was rescued with his mama when he was only 2 weeks old. And…BATHTIME!

 

 

Festival Hopping, Wedding Bells & Bucknell Happiness

The soggy leaves and muted raindrops on my backyard deck here in the quiet upstate New York countryside are providing a peaceful, perhaps melancholic backdrop for the writing of this overdue post.  It’s hard to believe that we’re already more than halfway through our fall semester, though the ripe apples at Cornell Orchards and and the delicious roasted squash at Bethe House dinners are a good giveaway…

As I finally recover from a rather brutal summer (my feeling is that shingles plus a bedbug infestation while nursing a broken heart should be against the laws of nature), I’ve been delighted to look back on the artistic joys that pulled me through it all.

August began with a return to my beloved PACO Camp where a team of faculty usher nearly 90 brilliant, bright-eyed teenagers through the wonderful world of string quartets.  From there it was off to Italy for my first summer as co-director of the Paesaggi Musicali Toscani festival in Siena.  I was honored to play two concertos – Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (arr. Desyatnikov) and the European premiere of Jorge Grossman’s Mosoq under the Tuscan moon to a sold-out crowd for opening night.  A few days later, a three-hour drive to Rome, a nine-hour flight to Detroit, a 90-minute flight to Minneapolis, a 45-minute flight to Duluth and finally an hour in the car brought me to NLCMI 2019 up in Minnesota’s untouched Boundary Waters.  Playing and coaching chamber music on Lake Vermilion amongst family and friends is pretty much the best life has to offer.

September started with a bang as my studio settled into their groove – five fantastic new freshman have joined the crew and they’re doing a bang-up job.  My new bluegrass “band,” (a generous use of the word) String Theory did some fabulously fun gigs at the Fall Friends of Stewart Park Festival and La Tourelle.  I was tickled to learn a bunch of new tunes and fiddle my way back to childhood alongside Ithaca’s finest folk musicians.  The next week, shoe-shine bowings gave way to Schubert bowings, and I headed to Minneapolis for the CMSM‘s first concert of the year, celebrating Tony Ross’s 60th birthday with Schubert’s monumental cello quintet.  Just a few days later our entire family and so many friends found ourselves out in the Bay for my little brother’s wedding!  It was a beautiful weekend filled with laughter, tears, dancing, a video montage, great food, and deeply special music – plus a surprise baby shower for dear cousin Yoonie.  Congratulations, Nathan and Natali!

And here we are in October, which started with another family wedding, this time for cousin Andrea and her new hubby Rob.  The rainy day brought good luck upon the couple and we closed the night with an Italian feast – evviva gli sposi, Mr. & Mrs. Glass!  After a swing back to NYC for another dive into the world of Indian classical Carnatic violin-ing with my teacher Arun Ramamurthy, I headed back up to Ithaca for a some whirlwind teaching and meetings.  Just a few days later, I found myself at Bucknell University for a wonderful weekend of master classes, rehearsals, and a recording of Dan Temkin‘s gorgeous piano trio, Flow which we will perform live with Bucknell Dance later this year.  Tomorrow it’s down to the City for a week of Knights camp to inaugurate our 19-20 season alongside BalletCollective plus a reunion of the whole Ne(x)tworks gang for a “then & now” retrospective to bid farewell to the group, of which I was a part for 10 years, as past and present members take the stage together one last time.

And as always, a photo diary…

Post-faculty concert at PACO Camp – how awesome are this posters our kiddos made!?

Opening night @ PMT 2019 – Piazzolla and Grossman with Milano Classica…

…and post-concert with wonderful friends and “family” in San Quirico d’Orcia!

NLCMI 2019!
Stuffing my face with Minnesota State Fair sweet corn…totally amazing.

Lunch and dinner dates with strong, powerful, amazing lady friends, both downstate and up…
My maiden voyage playing first fiddle in the Schubert quintet – CMSM season opener with Papa Kim, Sabina Thatcher, Beth Rapier and Tony Ross (Happy 60th, T!)…
…meeting brand-new dear Annabel…

…and Nathan & Natali’s wedding!
Pre-wedding surprise baby shower for Yoonie (and Emmett, still in the oven)
My ceremony music partner-in-crime, James

Post-nuptial party time in San Francisco – greatest dimsum lunch ever and a walk through the Botanical Gardens =)

Andrea & Rob’s wedding, with some Walker family time before the reception started…
…and Bucknell happiness – workshopping Dan’s piece in Rooke Hall with Qing Jiang and Christine Lamprea…
…and meeting lovely baby Kate (it’s a halfie thing, we’re taking over the world)…
…recording Flow – that’s a wrap!

 

Sandpoint Nostalgia, Summer Knights & Adieu, AQ…

Amidst this sweltering summer, it is with a heavy heart that I share the bittersweet news that I will be stepping down from the Aizuri Quartet.  It has been three incredible years complete with many hours on the road, intense rehearsals, master classes, and wonderful collaborations, not to mention a Gold Medal at the 2017 Osaka Competition, the 2018 M-Prize, a residency at the MET Museum, and a trip to the 2019 Grammys this past February.  With the group wanting to move toward full-time-land, a new promotion at Cornell and two new co-artistic directorships for me, there comes a time when life only allows for so much…

We performed our last concert together on the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota’s season finale, and though an evening of many emotions, the performance was something quite magical for me.  Though this is a closing of one chapter, there are new ones to be read, and I wish the other three gals the best as they move forward.  Below is a link to videos of that concert…

Post-Tuscany brought about a super special trip, a nostalgia tour of sorts, to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  With brother Nathan getting married this fall, we took one more “pentagon” getaway, this time back to our old stomping grounds in Sandpoint, Idaho.  This sacred spot was home to Gunther Schuller‘s Festival at Sandpoint Institute, where my dad headed up the chamber music division.  We moved out to Mt. Schweitzer every summer to tag along, attend fiddle camp, hike the mountains, swim in Lake Pend Oreille and eat tons of huckleberries.  This trip, nearly 20 years later, was  a revisiting and recreating of nearly all of those activities (minus the huckleberries…it was too early in the season for those puppies)…

Back in New York, The Knights had a couple of wonderful Mendelssohn octet concerts, one at our home base in Brooklyn and the second at Temple Emanu-El – one of the most stunning edifices in all of New York City.  It was an honor and rite of passage to perform in such a special space.  Following that concert I had an Ariana-and-Alma day complete with our annual shopping trip to the Crocs store and some New York pizza by the slice.  A performance at my former student HaeSoo and her new hubby Jonathan’s wedding (man I’m getting old if my students are getting married!) took me straight up to the start of my summer festival hopping – first stop, the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley!  My darling groups performed some Mendelssohn and Schubert to be admired, and it was a total privilege to be back alongside my Bay Area colleagues teaching at such a fantastic place.  Next stop, Santa Cruz for my umpteenth PACO Camp, and then concertos by Piazzolla and Jorge Grossman with the Milano Classica chamber orchestra in Tuscany!

And as always, a photo diary…

A trip to our beloved Valley Fair during my week back in MN with Adrian, Ethan, Yi-Ming and Guor-Har =)

Family time…a birthday dinner for Mama Kim, home yoga classes, and saying goodbye to our neighborhood diner Snuffy’s (world’s best malts), closing its doors after opening back in 1982…

A bit teary-eyed, a post-final AQ concert shot backstage at Sundin
Mama Ellen livin’ it up with her first class upgrade en route to her b-day trip in Idaho…
The view from “base camp” at Mt. Schweitzer

A picnic, a family hike up the mountain, and happy hour at the summit, no doubt.

Post-Lake Pend Oreille swim, a white water rafting trip down the Spokane River, and a family portrait on our last night before heading back to our respective real lives…
Performing the Mendelssohn Octet at our Knights Blueshift concert event

Hangin with some lovely little girls, Alma (and her new Crocs) and new friends Hazel and Sammy =)
HaeSoo & Jonathan’s wedding – what a gorgeous family!

My amazing students at Crowden

 

 

Chyunlellabrations, Cornell Commencement, & Tuscan Trails

When the warm waves of spring and summer finally rolled in, the whole Kim clan had convened in beautiful Princeton to celebrate our dear Hae-An Chyun and Steve Colella’s nuptials.  Everything from the Korean bowing ceremony 폐백 to the weather and each detail put in place by the beautiful couple brought joy, grace, and togetherness.

After a giant post-wedding Mother’s Day feast that ended with a first-generation group nap on the floor (picture a mass of happily food coma-ed 30-somethings sprawled on a bamboo floor), it was back to the City for me – the Aizuris and distinguished guests brought to life Michi Wiancko‘s first chamber opera, Murasaki’s Moon at the MET Museum.  Working with OnSite Opera and the three singers Kristen Choi, Martin Bakari and John Noh was something I’ll cherish for years to come.  A brief hang with some NYC friends and then to Minnesota I went to give a super cool recital featuring Steve Heitzeg‘s Lake Stone Moon at the St. Paul Patagonia in honor of their “Save the Boundary Waters” campaign.

It was then up to Cornell for our end-of-year festivities – faculty recognition events, student recitals and graduation.  My honey and I managed something I’ve been dreaming of since the first signs of Ithaca snowmelt were upon us – a hike through Treman Park complete with swimming hole dips and waterfall baths.  And, if that wasn’t beautiful enough, I jumped a flight to Rome to begin my work as Co-Artistic Director of the Paesaggi Musicali Toscani festival in Siena.  A couple of Italian-style work days (I had forgotten the beauty of wine with lunch) later, I found myself visiting old friends and taking in some of the most exquisite food on the planet.  The pillowy ricotta gnocchi at Perillá literally brought quiet, honest tears to my eyes…

For those interested in a compelling read, here’s what I’ve just started to sink my teeth into – written recently by a friend and colleague at Cornell Jamila Michener: Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism and Unequal Politics – eye-opening, heartbreaking, and so thoughtfully presented.

And as always, here, a photo diary:

Wedding Time!

The set of Murasaki’s Moon @ The MET

Hanging with dear old friends Suzy, Marta, and Nanae
Meeting, for the first time in person, one of my musical heroes, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich post-concert in NYC

Recital at the St. Paul Patagonia – my first-ever retail store concert =)

Cornell Graduation – Congratulations Class of 2019!
With Nandi, Rafa and Ben at our faculty awards dinner…tenure’s finally in the bag for these two ladies!

Hiking Treman Park – food for the mind, body and soul…

And…TUSCANY…a wise man once said “Good work, if you can get it!”  ‘Nuff said.

Songs & Dances, Stunning Students and Farewell, Takuzosan!

Taking a moment to breathe out on the gorgeous water at the Deleware Water Gap, I looked back on the last month, realizing how deeply complex life can be – and perhaps it is that complexity that gives meaning to each chapter.  And then, a frosty river plunge.  I thought of the far-too-early passing of a dear family friend, Takuzo Ishida – husband, father, chemist, bonsai master, carpenter, long-time CMSM Board member and, just last year, a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors.  His life was one of kindness, generosity, integrity, excellence, and joy.  With blessings, may you Rest in Peace, Takuzosan.

With Takuzo post-concert in Tokyo, 2017

With the quartet off for the past month, April was wonderful whirlwind of special performance experiences, projects, and teaching.  Now in early May (how did that happen so fast?), we waved goodbye yesterday to the end of the semester here at Cornell, said hello to Slope Day, and ushered in the beginning of summer.

I had the great joy and honor of putting together a program of the Ruth Crawford Seeger sonata, Heifetz’s arrangements of a few Porgy tunes, and then the Dvorak quintet with my dear friend and long-time duo partner, Ieva Jokubaviciute on our most recent CMSM concert.  Her darling daughter and my unofficial goddaughter Alma came long for the tour, and my heart was so full spending time with her.  She even gave us an impromptu concert of her entree into Suzuki Book 2 – life kinda doesn’t get better than that.  Following the CMSM concert I had a chance to do some outreach volunteer visits to two of my favorite Twin Cities elementary schools – Blake and Valley Crossing – such fantastic kiddos!

After Minneapolis it was time to head back to Cornell to prep my annual faculty solo recital, entitled “Song and Dance Come Forth” which featured works for solo violin and viola + 1 written for, inspired by, or adapted from song and dance.  A special tribute to John Harbison, now celebrating his 80th year followed some Bach baroque dances, followed by Brahms’ G Major sonata and some bluegrass tunes – heading back to my childhood roots at fiddle camp in Northern Idaho…

Speaking of those childhood roots at fiddle camp in Sandpoint (a charming town near the Canadian border) where my father taught each summer at Gunther Schuller’s jazz and chamber music festival, I got to dive hard into the rich and inspiring folk music scene in Ithaca at the Friends of Stewart Park benefit concert.  Sharing the stage with local legends in a program curated by Rick Manning – brilliant landscape architect, engaged citizen and bluegrass-er – we fiddled, strummed, plucked, stomped, and sang our way through the night at La Tourelle to fundraise for this fabulous organization.

Then it was off to Florida for a quick getaway to celebrate my cousin Hae-An’s pre-wedding weekend, a 36-hour trip out to the Bay for the Crowden Music Center‘s benefit and some surprise volunteer work at Castillero Middle, and then back to Cornell for our end-of-year student performances.  My students gave their showcase solo recital on Monday and they blew me away – committed, thoughtful, and commanding performances.  With an unexpected day off, I went down for a moment with my honey, on the Deleware River, and that brings us full circle.

And, as always, a photo diary…

CMSM concert with Ieva and Society artists Papa Kim, Sally Chisholm and Tony Ross

Play time with our dearest Alma…
…and of course, a mid-April Minnesota blizzard…

Volunteering at Valley Crossing Elementary School…
…and the Blake School =)
The gorgeous (and delicious) tenure celebration dinner that my lovely neighbors, Doc & Greg made for me!

This is what happens when one rehearses on Easter at the Mizrahi home: the most epic egg-dying-decorating party ever!

Cousin time in Florida!

Solo recital at the Carriage House Hayloft

Post-show with dear friends Amy, Scott, Patty and Ben and my fabulous collaborators Kerry and Rick

Bluegrass night for Friends of Stewart Park at La Tourelle!
Post-Crowden Music Center Benefit with the Meraki Quartet (good luck at Fischoff tomorrow!)
And a surprise visit to Castillero Middle =)

My students at their end-of-year showcase recital – they so beautifully crushed it.

Taking in a super fun student performance, the Cornell Pan-African Dance and Drum Ensemble year-end concert

Taking a moment to exhale and take in some chill time at the Deleware Water Gap =)
And finally, a heartfelt blessing to Notre Dame – found this old picture of me and friend Miguel in front of the cathedral 15 years ago…

The Knights in Europe, GRAMMY® Time & Hello Spring!

Coming to you post-concert at Bucknell University, a short-and-sweet entry here to share some of the beautiful moments I’ve had the chance to be a part of over the last two months…

February started with a Knights camp bang, with an intensive rehearsal week in Brooklyn, a kick-off concert at Pioneer Works, and then off we went to take on Europe.  Our first stop in Szczecin, Poland was one of my personal highlights (and surprisingly so) from the entire monthlong project.  The concert hall there, Karlowicz Philharmonic Szczecin is one of the most enjoyable spaces – both in terms of physical beauty and acoustics – to play in.  There was a magic that the group was able to find on stage that somehow got sent in a collective, artistic wave, out into the audience.  I had a few deeply spiritual moments thinking of dear Stan “Bear” Skrowaczewski, who passed two years ago, wondering if he ever graced the podium on that stage…

From there it was a crazy 20-hour journey from a Polish Flixbus to the Berlin and Paris airports for a 36-hours-on-the-ground moment in Los Angeles to catch the GRAMMY® Awards.  What an experience it was – something I never imagined being a part of my life, but alas, there we were.  From the excitement at the Premiere Ceremony (that’s the one where the really cool musicians are – it’s in fact too cool for telecast), being surrounded by such incredible artists to walking the red carpet and taking in the juggernaut that is the GRAMMY® Telecast, it was indeed unforgettable.  Perhaps the two best moments of that whirlwind trip however, were 1) family time with my fabulous LA aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and 2) hitting the red carpet with my fabulous parents as my “date” to the event…

After hitting up my favorite soondooboo restaurant on my way back to LAX, it was back to Europe for concerts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  Having the chance to play in arguably the two best halls in the world – the Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg and the Musikverein in Vienna was entirely inspiring.  Avi Avital, our brilliant guest mandolinist on tour, brought the house down night after night, and we delighted in programs from Vivaldi, Bach and Beethoven to new works by Thomas Adés, Arvo Pärt, and our very own Colin Jacobsen and Christina Courtin.  After multiple long-haul flights and countless hours on the tour bus, a huge debt of gratitude to Francisco Dasta who came up from Italy to be our on-location masseur!

A long journey back from Munich to Ithaca, I was elated to say hello to my house once again and to be back in my Cornell office with my students (many thanks to my incredible adjuncts who so expertly looked after my studio while I was away!).  Another blizzard or two later, it was down to NYC and out to DC for some Aizuri Quartet concerts (here’s to the incredible vision of the Boulanger Initiative!), and now off to the Intricate Machines tour, organized by the two ultra creative composers Daniel Temkin and Phil Taylor.

And most importantly, my favorite moment of the season – the lake by my house, thawing for the first time in the spring sunlight, the ripples on the surface of the water glistening like aspen leaves in the wind…

Welcome back, springtime =)

And as always, a photo diary:

Avi Avital bringing down the house in Szczecin, Poland

At the Grammy Nominee reception at the Ebell of LA with cousin Yoonie and friend (fellow nominee-engineer) Jesse!

Getting ready at my auntie’s house – how gorgeous are my parents!?

Premiere Ceremony time!

Red Carpet time!  (Karen couldn’t make the trip to LA, so she’s the cute stuffed giraffe in Ayane’s hand =P)
Forces of Nature – 5 incredible ladies taking the stage at the Telecast (Gaga, Jada Pinkett, J Lo, Alicia Keys, and yes, Michelle Obama…)

After Party time! My cousins Eugene and Liberty were my dates, and post-pics with Ayane and Miho and A Far Cry friend Jay Lee =)

Post-Grammy hang with my fam at my favorite soondooboo joint…
Rehearsing in Switzerland…

The insanely beautiful and humbling Elbphilharmonie (and my bro Nathan came over from Sweden to hear our concert!)
Pre-concert at the Musikverien…

A lovely moment at the water front pre-concert with dear friend Alex in Friedrichshafen
THE BUS.
Hanging post-concert with Avi

And Knights friend time pre- and post-last concert in Neumarkt…

Things got a little crazy when we arrived at our hotel at 2am before a 5am departure back to the States…yes, this was all made available to us in the hotel lobby =)
A lovely moment at Simone Dinnerstein’s Neighborhood Classics concert series in Brooklyn, a selfie with “mama” Jane =)
The Aizuris playing the inaugural WoCo launch event for the Boulanger Initiative – huge shout out to Laura Colgate, the initiative’s fearless founder!

Post-AQ concert at Cornell, hosted by Scott MacDonald and the Telluride House (post-show with dear friends Betsy and Jesse Goldberg and Scott, the boss himself!)
SPRINGTIME!

When Truth Prevails, Mountain Music & a Grammy Nom

It’s a relatively quiet morning at the Schiphol Airport – an airport that I have a strange fondness for, it having been where I spent an unexpected but wonderfully adventurous 17-hour layover back in my teenage days – as I sit with the BBC to my right and an espresso machine gurgling to my left.  Another long stretch has passed since I’ve written here, and there is much to share, so I won’t dilly-dally any longer (except to say I’m already dreaming of the Parisian croissant that awaits me in two days time) –

As we navigate through a time in our culture – both at home and abroad – when truth seems optional and so much appears backward, it shines a particularly radiant light when things go right.  As I find myself exiting the most arduous 18-month stretch of my life, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for the five women who took time out of their busy lives to dive deep and set a maliciously spinning sphere back in orbit.  There is still a long journey ahead as things worth fighting for are never a simple nor brief endeavor, but when things have been wrong for so long, justice – albeit interstitial for now – is powerful.

To the people who have provided the container for me to heal, for those who rebuilt my courage and strength, and the five women – representing all those doing just things in the world – I thank you.  I leave you with these words from our greatest political and cultural leaders that I came across in the past months:

“It is difficult for the common good to prevail against the intense concentration of those who have a special interest, especially if the decisions are made behind locked doors.” – Jimmy Carter

“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pain to bring it to light.” – George Washington

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – RBG

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.  Life’s a bitch.  You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou

And now, from stunning student recitals at Cornell amidst back-to-back blizzards up in Ithaca to family holiday time in Europe, concerts in Minneapolis and at the Lincoln Center Atrium to quartet tours in Dublin, North Carolina and the mountains of Vermont – and now, a Blueprinting Grammy nomination, I leave you here with a photo diary:

OCTOBER

Taking advantage of our last nice weekend in Ithaca – a ride in my dreamy new car (whose name is now Azi) – up the Cayuga Lake shore to Americana Vineyards with dear friend Amy McCune =)
Post-e concert with the venerated John Harbison, celebrating his 80th year!
Post-CMSM concert birthday party for Papa Kim, here showing off his favorite gift of the annual Bethe House t-shirt =)
Back to U Mich we go! The Aizuris giving a lecture/panel discussion with students and faculty at the U-M School of Music, Theater, and Dance EXCEL Lab

Pre-UMS Concert Series quartet show, taking a moment with dear friends SuPa and Francie Kang, and Megan Rohrer
Blueprinting CD release show @ National Sawdust!  (photo: Jill Steinberg)

CD release show after-party with the whole Aizuri crew (plus composers Paul and Lembit!) and dear Cornell friends Jane & Scott MacDonald and Patty Keller =)
And more Bethe House love with our fearless leader Erica, hubby Jason and little Halloween-ready dino Ira!

NOVEMBER

Scrag Mountain Music Residency! Up into the glorious mountains of Vermont we went for concerts with co-directors Evan Premo and Mary Bonhag, and surrounding ourselves with amazing people and incredible food -thank you, Green Mountain Girls Farm =)
An AQ student composer workshop residency at Ramapo College – post-concert selfie with all of the fabulous student composers and their teacher, Gilad Cohen

An Irish Thanksgiving – workshopping Donnacha Dennehy‘s new chamber opera in Dublin over Thanksgiving weekend…

  

…and a quick overnight stop in Leipzig for a belated Thanksgiving with my two baby bros (Daniel was on an exchange program working in the Leipzig Gewandhaus for the semester) – visited Bach’s tomb, and got great seats to Die Zauberflöte with D playing in the pit!

Annual family concert @ the CMSM – Basil made his on-stage debut…seatbelt and baby-bear chair in all =)
Castillero! One of my favorite annual traditions – volunteering with Scott Krijnen and his blow-you-away public school orchestra students at Castillero Middle School in San Jose, CA
Scott with Trudy and Larry Rankin, who have bestowed upon a cherished Castillero student each year, the use of their late son Corry’s cello =)

Taking a minute to go meet two lovely new creatures born in the Bay, baby Olivia and baby Rafa!
Lincoln Center Atrium show with Ljova and friends!

 

Quartet time back under the metal ear – an intensive recording week @ the Academy of Arts and Letters capturing the chamber music of Ilari Kaila

Indiegogo perk vinyl album shippage command-central (my NYC living room!)…
…and my Chrisma-Diwa-Nukh-Kwanz “tree” =)

Christmastime with the family in Sweden (that’s a giant 1000-piece New Yorker cover art puzzle…’twas quite the feat)…
CRUSHED IT.
And my disastrous Christmas dinner…bought a whole bunch of gorgeous Swedish salmon thinking it was fresh…and ’twas smoked =/
Happy wedding (and awesomely sweaty dance party) to Josh and Maggie!

Men at work…the Kim boys making traditional Korean mandoo for our dduk-gook feast…could I just quit everything so that I can cook/eat all day. everyday?

And a bow to the grandparents and elders to ring in 2019

Holiday time with friends Naomi Krasner, Mary Bolkcom, the Harris family and the Chen-Lou family =)

JANUARY

Basil and I headed out on the open road, yet again…
“Lucky 3/13” – happily reuniting with Juilliard doctoral classmates (Lucky 13, Class of 2020) Ann and Yves at the 2019 CMA Conference!

BLIZZARD TIME UPSTATE! That’s my backyard in Ithaca…

…so I ran away to the beach for the weekend =P
Back on the road – an extended weekend in North Carolina, AQ master class in Wilmington

Back to Cornell for student recitals (congrtaulations, Emily, Adeline and Julie!) and Bethe House Dinner hangin’ with cutie pie baby Seth =)

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

…partying at the New York City Grammy Nominee Reception!  (Yeah, that’s a practice red carpet…)

Next up is a European tour with The Knights with a crazy (but of course I had to) jaunt to LA for the Grammys – Poland, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – highlights will surely include concerts at the Vienna Musikverein and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie…

Happy 2019!

Beauty on the New York Subway

It has now been many months since I’ve had the wherewithal to make a new post to share with all of you – my apologies.  The last 10 months have been perhaps the most difficult time of my life, and I have searched for moments that bring a glimpse of light into a sphere of darkness.  I have discovered that when you find yourself surrounded by people who send out anger, immorality and dishonesty toward you in one realm, the universe sometimes sends out grace, compassion, and truth in another:

Several months ago, in a moment of overwhelming confusion and devastation, I had to board the C train at 72nd Street to head back uptown.  I somehow had lost my ability to maintain composure in public and when tears began streaming down my cheeks, I sheepishly tucked myself into the corner of the subway train, hoping not to draw attention nor disturb other peoples’ commutes.  I was silent in my tears, but nonetheless several people began to notice.  My embarrassment grew larger than life, and short of getting off the train at a random stop or pulling the emergency cord only to prolong my journey home, I stayed on the train, wishing I could become invisible.

As New Yorkers feel the squeeze of the increasingly dysfunctional MTA, busy rush-hour commutes and crowded trains, one would expect a moment like this to bring annoyance or at least apathy.  Instead, a kind woman – a perfect stranger – came up to me and said “Baby, you alright?  It’s gonna be just fine, darlin – whatever it is.”  She gave me a huge hug, and sat back down.  At the next stop, a gentleman dressed in medical scrubs came over and said “Miss, are you ok?  Is there anything I can do for you?”  When I replied “No, thank you – I’m ok,” he replied, “Alright, and if you change your mind, I’ll be sitting right here.”  And as we pulled into my station, an elderly woman stood next to me as I faced the doors waiting for them to open and she said “You know what you should do?  Go home, take a deep breath, light a candle and say a prayer.  Whatever this is it’ll be better tomorrow.”  Then she hugged me too.

Three perfect strangers on a busy, packed New York subway…not in my wildest dreams would I have expected a moment like this.  And in one 20-minute ride, there was suddenly light coming through my darkness, and I saw true goodness, and beauty on the New York subway.  It reminded me of a passage from a gorgeous poem written by the enthralling Denice Frohman, with whom my quartet and I collaborated with at the MET a few months ago:

…the conductor interrupts, he’s sorry for the delay
but we’re riding too close to the next train;
a woman reaching for the pole
accidentally grabs my hand,
& in another world we would laugh & be lovers
& dance on the Q train,
to a power ballad or a bolero…

Perhaps this will be our evolved future =)

Thank you, Denice.

And with story time concluded, I owe you all 7 months of recaps, professional goings-on, tour photos, and memorable moments – I’ll keep my words brief and let the photos do the talking.

FEBRUARY

My first recital of the Spring Semester back at Cornell – Schubert with the incomparable Malcolm Bilson
My amazing parents came out to Ithaca for the Cornell concert and we did an icy hike at Buttermilk Falls =)
Recording our next Knights album with the phenomenal San Francisco Girls Chorus!
Me and my Aizuri sisters at our third MET Museum concert with shakuhachi player Ko Umezaki and composer Paul Wiancko

MARCH

Meeting my dearest new “nephew” Seth Goldberg – that’s him with big brothers Sandy and Evan =)
Judged the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Competition – and we chose THREE first-prize winners – the first time in history that there was a 3-way tie – congrats, Max, Cherry and Ania!
Playing on PBS Almanac with the fabulous Anthony McGill!
Post-CMSM concert with Anthony McGill, Tony Ross, and Papa Kim
The Aizuris with Denice Frohman at the MET Cloisters for our penultimate residency concert – Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ   
Post-concert pic chatting with Denice about her stunning poetry and spoken word performance

APRIL

During Cornell’s Spring Break, returning to Italy for the European premiere of the documentary about my refugee project, Le storie di vita nel legno – a beautfiul panel discussion with the refugees and all the volunteers of Cooperativa Selene…

All of the volunteers, local representatives, and refugees following our community round-table discussion =)

Visiting old friends in Cremona and Bolgona!

After Italy, I made a trip to Sweden to play a small recital and visit my brother Nathan!
Post-concert at the Caramoor Festival with the AIzuris and our dear friend and colleague Caroline Shaw

Playing my Spring Faculty Recital at Cornell with long-time friend, colleague and stunning pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute
And a post-recital hike at Toughannock Falls with Ieva and her darling daughter Alma!

A trip to Lakeland, FL to attend a silent retreat that involved Sandplay Therapy and meditation exercises – truly soul-nourishing and powerful…
Saying hello to an old friend, dear Corry Rankin who passed during our time in college together back in 2002…

MAY

MAY IS FOR M-PRIZE!!!

We were honored, shocked, humbled and incredibly proud to be named the Grand Prize Winners of the crazy cool and prestigious 2018 M-Prize at the University of Michigan…post-Gala Concert with Matt Albert and Jay Treuting

Performing with the quartet on the Evermay Series in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations Class of 2018! Cornell graduation pics with students and wonderful colleague Shorna Allred =)
An end-of-year party with friends Nell, Peter and Amy to celebrate over Thai food…

Studio Party! A huge Korean BBQ feast that I hosted at my home for all of my students to thank them for their incredible work and support all year…
Mama and Papa Kim came out to Ithaca once more to hear my students’ Spring 2018 solo recital (which was STUNNING!) – post concert pic below =)

JUNE

A Twin Cities debut for the Aizuri Quartet! Pre-concert Korean dinner and post-concert pic with board members and friends =). Check out our Minneapolis Star Tribune review!
On my way back from China I made a quick stop in Seoul, Korea to visit my cousin Seung-An…we’re face-deep in nengmyun =)
A weekend of pure joy and happiness taking care of my dearest “goddaughter” Alma – a Central Park picnic with new “sister” Maya!

JULY

Fourth of July with my fantastic family out in Princeton, NJ
Happy Hour at the JFK Delta SkyClub with mama and papa pre-flight to Cali!
Post-concert with friends and students at the Crowded Music Center Summer Chamber Music Workshop – teaching and performing here is truly wonderful.
Adventures in Oakland…the aftermath of the smash-and-grab break-in of my rental car =/

Antenna Cloud Farm with the quartet – thank you Judd and Michi!
Final concert at the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival in Washington State…
…and my “Basil the Bear music stand” =)
A dinner date and reconnecting time with an old friend Ray Lustig and his sweet daughter, Eva

AUGUST

PACO Camp! My umpteenth year back as a faculty member at the Palo Alto Chamber Music Workshop out in California – my group and their amazing poster for me after our faculty concert…and the staff crew!

And my doppelgänger half a generation removed…sweet Sage from PACO =)
Meeting my dear friends Ben and Ana’s little boy, Julian!

NLCMI 2018! Back at the Northern Lights Chamber Music Institute, up in the glorious Boundary Waters of MN…

And I wrapped up the summer touring season with a tour in Italy with the quartet – concerts here at the Paesaggi Musicali Toscani and Morellino Classica festivals in Tuscany =)

SEPTEMBER

Back to School! Listening to a Cornell Orchestras rehearsal in Bailey Hall…
A dinner party at home with my amazing colleagues from the Cornell Small Group Mentoring Project =)
My updated office wall =)

A very special weekend celebrating the life of Grandmother Twentyman and the MacDonald family – an all-day hike in Treman Park =)
Happy Choosuk – the fall equinox Korean harvest festival =)
Sat next to Bob Costas on my flight from Syracuse to JFK! He was so lovely!

Goodbye to my dearest ’09 5-speed Civic…you were an incredible car and I’ll miss you! Here’s to my last tank of gas (maybe ever!?)…
…and HELLO NEW CAR!! I can hardly believe myself when I’m driving it…

AND – OUR ALBUM JUST DROPPED!!  The Aizuri Quartet debut album, Blueprinting, was released on New Amsterdam Records on Friday!  Check it out on iTunes here and if you would like to donate to our Indiegogo Campaign, do it here!  We’ve got $23,000+ left to go – every dollar helps!