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Striking a chord

By Yan Weijue | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-06-03 14:34

The theater lamplights dim, leaving only a spotlight on center stage. The whispering crowd quickly quietens as the audience trains its eyes on the artist, as music lovers prick up their ears and hold their collective breath.

Gently and deftly, Chin Kim begins to play his violin, an instrument he's known for more than 55 years. Mellifluous melody pours from the vibrating strings, from major to minor keys, with several deceptive cadences thrown in between, followed by a bravura flourish and series of extraordinary trills that celebrate the 15-minute sonata's electric theme.

"It's the Violin Sonata in G minor, or the Devil's Trill, by Giuseppe Tartini," Kim told China Daily during a rehearsal in Wuxi, in Jiangsu province on Wednesday night. He stretched out two fingers, imitating a tiptoeing demon that reputedly appeared to the composer at his bedside, inspiring the composition.

The Korean-born American classical violinist, who has been actively concertizing throughout North America, Asia and Europe for over three decades, is in the middle of his debut China tour. He will travel to 18 cities across the mainland in the span of a month.

"I love giving concerts. And I want to spread classical music as much as possible to the world. So when the China tour was suggested, I said yes."

Kim managed to squeeze some time from his hectic schedule to sample the oriental culture and cuisine which is rooted in the street.

"[China has] beautiful towns and nice people. I was told to be careful with the street food. But I have to try it," he said. "The Chongqing hotpot is so good."

Kim's way to repay the courtesy he has found in China is to deliver magnificent recitals, performing some of the most dazzling works in his repertoire including pieces by Tartini, Johann Sebastian Bach and Jascha Heifetz.

At the age of 62, Kim thinks his musicality and virtuosity is still on the rise, as he gains a deeper understanding of those master works on a daily basis.

"Every time you pick up the same piece you have played, you have to look at it like you have never seen it before, so that it is new," he said.

"So for every concert I try something new. It might be a fingering, phrasing, tempo change, etc. And I keep experimenting with different things to see if I can find a better way to do something."

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