Today, orchestra audiences know the concertmaster as the violinist who precedes the conductor onstage, and helps the orchestra tune – a sign that the concert is about to begin. WRTI’s Susan Lewis discovered that the position carried duties both onstage and off.
LEWIS: The concertmaster is foremost the first chair of the first violins, a section that often carries the melody. Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim says his musical duties include setting bowing patterns for the strings.
KIM: Let me use the slow movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic. First I’m going to use a long bow and try to capture as many notes as I can without changing the bow. If I decided, okay, well, I think we need more bow so I’m going to have us change bow - the direction that we change the bow - many times. Then suddenly it will sound like I’m singer. Here’s one that I’m breaking the bow as it were.
LEWIS: There are plenty of nonmusical duties as well. On a typical day, Kim checks in with the conductor before they start rehearsal.
KIM: If it’s Yannick, go in and say hello, anything Maestro, last second, that you need to talk about? If it's a guest conductor, welcome them to town; do they need a restaurant recommendation? Do they need to know where to buy concert socks? Just anything, please depend on their concertmaster.
LEWIS: Kim serves as liason between the conductor and members of the Orchestra. He makes public appearances on behalf of the Orchestra, and the music director, if he is not available.
Listen to more about the concertmaster's responsibilities, onstage and off, in Susan Lewis' interview with Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim.
Listeners may not think about the visuals in an orchestra concert, but body language is an important way in which musicians communicate with one another. From his chair, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim leads Mozart’s Serenade in G Major: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik the way it would have been done in Mozart’s time, without a conductor, on January 10th, 11th, and 12th in concerts at the Kimmel Center.
Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim and Principal Timpani Don Liuzzi speak with WRTI's Jim Cotter as the ensemble embarks on a new type of overseas excursion. While still featuring traditional concert performances in Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, the Orchestra's 2012 Residency Week and Tour of China will place a greater emphasis on community engagement.
Don't miss this month's broadcast on Sunday, April 15th, from 5 to 6 pm, featuring David Kim (soloist) leading The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Dirk Brossé conducts the American premiere of Frederic Devreese's Valse Premiere.
Violinist David Kim was named Concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1999. Born in Carbondale, Illinois in 1963, Kim started playing the violin at the age of three, began studies with the famed pedagogue Dorothy DeLay at the age of eight, and later received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Juilliard School. In 1986, he was the only American violinist to win a prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.