By Joyell Nevins
Imagine the intimacy of a performer, a solo piano, and a hushed audience. There is a heart-stopping beauty that comes with that connection and respect between the musician and their listeners. And when the show is over, the audience is often left wanting . . . 10 more minutes.
That’s the concept behind and the title of Hillcrest resident Dr. Jeeyoon Kim’s new album, coming out Dec. 11 and being celebrated with a special release concert the same day at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. It’s a collection of the pianist’s favorite encore pieces from her national and international tours.
“After the concert is done, or almost about to be done, they just want 10 more minutes . . . they just want to see one more bite of it,” the soft-spoken Kim said. “My idea of this album is to be a collection of the longing and wanting to have 10 more minutes of a ‘cup of Jeyoon.’”
The album is full of classical compositions by Debussy, Schumann, Chopin, Schubert and others.
“These pieces are dear to my heart . . . like old friends,” Kim said.
“10 More Minutes” is not designed to be background music for grueling tasks throughout the day. Kim requests through the “user manual” that her listeners find a quiet place, don some headphones, and read her notes on each piece as they listen – to be immersed in the experience.
“I have realized that the time and spaces that I can reach is limited, but at the same time it doesn’t have to be that way. I hope to get to people who never came to my concert or will never be able to come to my concert,” Kim said. “To be able to share what I’m passionate about.”
It only took 30 days on Kickstarter to get the funding she needed, but it took a year and a half to create the album. Kim said she pulled together the “best team” in the business, including a producer, sound engineer, graphic designers, photographers, a recording studio in New York City, and a “great” Hamburg Steinway.
“I cared for every single detail of this album, from each single note to finishing,” she said.
Kim grew up in South Korea with parents who loved to sing and encouraged her musical abilities. She started taking piano lessons at age 4, and hasn’t wanted to do anything else since.
“I thought it was always so much fun to play piano, and I still think it is,” she said.
Kim received the first prize in the Korean Music Teachers’ Association Competition at age 18. She made her debut as a concert artist that same year in Busan, Korea. She received a full scholarship to study at Busan National University and graduated in 2002.
Kim came to the United States to continue her musical training, earning a master of music and doctorate of music in piano performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
She has also received a master of music in piano pedagogy from Butler University in Indiana, and currently teaches at her Hillcrest studio, Dr. Kim Piano Academy. Kim does both in-person and Skype lessons, and works with all ages. The school’s website features several handwritten notes from young students praising her kindness, her encouragement, and her “funny over-exaggerated impressions of me playing too loud!”
“I see each student and their own character as if they are an already beautiful bonsai tree,” Kim said. “I find the areas that they need strengthening, and areas that they could shine more as it’s their strength. Finding unique ways for each student to accept these instructions to grow healthy in music is an art in itself.”
Kim has performed all over the world, from Korea to Austria, and in the U.S. from Cleveland to San Diego. Big name venues include the Hilbert Circle Theatre, GloVil Art Hall and the Mozarteum Festival. But she specifically chose the auditorium at Scripps Research Institute for her release concert, a place where she has often performed for the San Diego Symphony Chamber Music series and La Jolla Music Society.
“I wanted this national celebration to be where I reside,” she said. “I can’t wait to celebrate this day with audiences, who have been in this journey with me all along.”
For more information about Kim, her music, or to purchase tickets, visit 10moreminutesconcert.com, jeeyoonkim.com or drkimpiano.com. You can also like or follow Jeeyoon Kim on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
—Freelance writer Joyell Nevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com.