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.


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


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


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…



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 =)


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!


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


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 =)


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!



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