The San Luis Obispo Symphony Orchestra will open its 2012-13 season Saturday with one of the Everests of the Romantic repertoire — the Brahms Opus 77 Violin Concerto.
Virtuoso David Kim, concert master for the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1999, will be returning to the Central Coast to play the extraordinarily demanding solo part. But the artist seems unruffled by the difficulty of Brahms’ composition, so eager is he to return to play music here.
In a recent telephone interview, Kim spoke about his love for musical performance and the special qualities of San Luis Obispo.
A world traveler, his career has taken him from Philadelphia to Moscow to Tokyo. “And of all the places I’ve played, San Luis Obispo is seriously one of my top two,” he said. (He was coy about the other one.)
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“How come? First, it is such a delight working with (SLO Symphony Music Director) Michael Nowak, a special guy who’s become a close friend. We met a few years ago at a chamber music festival in Martha’s Vineyard and hit it off. He invited me to San Luis Obispo for one recital, then invited me back – and getting re-invited to a place is the hard part!”
“Playing under Mike Nowak is really a special experience that I’m always grateful for. We’ll play the Brahms Concerto, which is one of the most important violin pieces. I really love it – I play it more often in Philadelphia than I play the Beethoven Concerto. The Cohan Center’s acoustics are great. But what I’m really looking forward to most with the Brahms is sharing the total emotional experience with Mike and the orchestra, many of whose members I count as friends.”
Kim noted that he’s also a wine lover, belongs to several wine-tasting clubs, and likes to play golf – so he’s hoping he gets some time to do that after the concert.
Asked for his thoughts on the current state of classical music internationally, Kim replied that he has two answers.
“First, orchestras all over the country and the world are suffering the effects of the global economy. This week, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is in trouble and the Minnesota Philharmonic is negotiating its way out of a crisis. But the problem is the economy, not the music or the players! I get a good audience wherever I play, especially in cities; the interest is there.
In addition, Kim said, “We have to reach out to listeners under 50. Last week in Japan, I did some special concerts for children, and when I was in China, we went out to the countryside and played. We have to develop new audiences and be innovative regarding interactive music education.
“I’ll never degrade the art form, but classical performance today needs to have some sizzle, something that goes ‘Pop!’ but doesn’t pander.”