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[Herald Interview] Violinist without a music stand

Violinist Kim Ji-sun (Courtesy of Kim)
Violinist Kim Ji-sun (Courtesy of Kim)

Blind violinist Kim Ji-sun is set for a new page of her life with plans across the Pacific region.

Kim will attend the Manhattan School of Music in New York next year for graduate studies. She will be the first blind person to enter the two-year graduate program at the college.

“The program was to begin in September, but has been delayed to January because of the coronavirus pandemic situation,” Kim told The Korea Herald in a phone interview Monday. “But still, I am excited.”

Earlier this year, Kim won the grand prize at the VSA International Young Soloists Award, and earned an opportunity to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in September. But the performance has been postponed, too.

“The winners gathered on Zoom a few days ago and shared our stories,” Kim said. “The concert has been postponed, but it will happen for sure. The organizers told me they will make it happen. I am waiting for the day.”

Kim attended the Hanbit School for the Blind and went on to the Korea National University of Arts. She joined the Hanbit Performing Arts, an orchestra for the blind, when it was founded in 2011, and was concertmaster until 2014.

“Being a concertmaster, I have to focus on others’ sounds. It is not just about me. I have to care for others, adjust my sound so that others can do well,” Kim said. “It was not an easy job. But I learned a lot from it.”

Kim, unable to see from birth, memorizes the entire score before going on the stage.

“There weren’t many scores in braille in the past. My mom used to transcribe the scores into braille,” she said. “Things are slowly getting better, there are now more scores in braille.”

Meanwhile, the violinist will take the stage at the “Music in the Dark: Momentum” concert on Aug. 11 at the Lotte Concerts Hall in eastern Seoul. The concert is organized by Hanbit Performing Arts.

Kim will perform Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66 with pianist Lee Jae-hyuk and cellist Kim Min-ju. Lee was Kim’s teacher at the Hanbit School for the Blind.

“The fourth movement is passionate and strong. It is a well-recognized composition, so many can enjoy the music,” she said. “People are going through hard times now. I hope the audience can be comforted by my music.”

By Im Eun-byel (