Why don’t you listen to classical music instead of popular music? CAH met Kim Nam-yoon who is an orchestral conductor and music director. He founded the New Jersey Philharmonic orchestra in America and W Philharmonic orchestra in Korea. The mean of ‘W’ of W philharmonic orchestra is ‘Let’s sing the Wonderful dreams and Wish, Win-win with one another, Worship others, and make beautiful World.’ He has held not only many concerts every year but also has given lectures for popularization of orchestra. Let’s listen to his consideration of music and his dreams.
CAH : You graduated from the composition department. So, when did you decide to be a conductor?
KIM : After graduating, I was a music teacher in high school. Nevertheless, I felt irritated of the school. While concerning about doing other works, my friends said that ‘Study conducting, you have sufficient abilities of that.’ After listening to their advice, I went abroad, and studied chorus instruction in Chicago Musical College. While studying, I conducted in Chicago Academic Chamber. Doing that, I thought that ‘conducting is very wonderful, and I’m interested in that.’ As a result, I went to New Jersey, and learned more about conducting.
CAH : When you are a student at Chung-Ang University, how was your campus life?
KIM : When I was a freshman, I studied very hard. However, after that, because of doing part time jobs, I didn’t have a lot time to study. Instead of studying, I led a school band of a girl’s high school, and tutored elementary school children. The most memorable thing in campus lives is that when I was a freshman, my music was played in annual concert in our university. At that time, being selected as instrumental music in annual concert of freshman’s music was very difficult. I filled my heart with pride.
CAH : You are managing and leading W Philharmonic orchestra in Korea which is a special arts corporation. What’s the reason of management directly and what’s the purpose of these?
KIM : I lived in America for 27 years. At that time, because I liked American culture, I didn’t want to go back to the Korea. Yet, in June 2007, the New Jersey Philharmonic orchestra was invited to perform in seven cities of Korea. After visiting Korea, I wondered that Korea changed lot over 27 years. Korea has been a very powerful country and numerous cities have concert halls. The most memorable thing is a high obsession with education of Korea’s parents. Although Korea joined the classic field later than the U.S or Europe, Korea has full of potential for growth. Therefore, after thinking for months, I went back to Korea. I founded the W Philharmonic orchestra for advanced culture of orchestra. My goal of orchestra management is that making advanced orchestras and they have abilities to stand on their own.
CAH : You have played many performances. What’s the most memorable performance?
KIM : In 2002, I held three tenors concert in Carnegie hall. The three tenors are Koreans who were invited by me. That concert was a great success and I felt great that we performed in Carnegie hall where many people want to stand. To add, another concert came in my mind. Like former concert I explained, that concert was also held in Carnegie hall. I arranged Korean classical music to orchestra and performed successfully. I was proud that American said that “Korea developed very much”. After that concert, I have done my best for spreading Korean culture to other countries.
CAH : What’s the biggest attraction of classical music?
KIM : To be honest, classical music might be boring for many people. The reason is that classic is usually very long, so it needs many patients. However, if they know sound of only one musical instrument, they will love classical music surely. That is the biggest attraction of classical music. I explain sound of instruments to the crowd first. The reason is that one day I was invited to give a lecture to people who work one of the biggest companies in Korea. In the lecture, I asked them “Please raise your hand if you have ever seen orchestra directly”. Then, 15 of 200 members showed a hand. I was shocked that this is reality of culture level of Korean. Since then, I decided that before playing I will explain the sounds of instruments. I have tried that people can enjoy our performance more.
CAH : What’s the most important virtue as a conductor?
KIM : In Korea, people think more about happiness than other countries do. Unlike other countries, if someone doesn’t smile, people think he or she is angry. Korean crowds often ask me that “why are musicians are not smiling after performance unlike the conductors?” Because of that, they give much attention to expression of players. After that, I think that ‘happiness’ is the most important virtue of musicians, so I always try to relax the musicians and make them happy. In fact, directors have forceful charisma in the past, but in these days, in democratized age, conductors have soft charisma and have to. So giving happiness to players instead of urging them is more important virtue as conductors.
CAH : When do you feel the most rewarding as conductor?
KIM : Many people came to our concert with their children. In the past, children didn’t sit until ending the performance. Nevertheless, recently, they sit gently and appreciate sincerely our classical music. Also they came to me after the performance, and said me “please autograph”, “please take a picture together” although I’m not idol. Seeing them was very rewarding and thought that when they become adults, our classic field will improve a lot and as a result, Korean level will be very high.
CAH : There are many students who are studying music. Tell them some advice.
KIM : Not only those students, but also all students in Korea have a difficulty employing. I want to say them if your aptitude and interest are not suited you, change your way rapidly. Specially, students who decide to enter a university of arts prepared very early. So they often neglect other studying. Also they meet and compete with limited friend, so their lives in society could be hard. Therefore I want to say them “Use the music for only a tool, not for an object.”
CAH : How do you want to be remembered by people?
KIM : I want to be remembered a conductor who opened a new style of orchestra and made one model of Korean orchestra. For members of our orchestra, I want to be remembered happy and soft conductor.
CAH : What’s your ultimate goal and dream?
KIM : First of all, my goal is that W Philharmonic orchestra possess a most desirable form in Korea as soon as possible. Moreover, I hope people have access to more classical music. I hope many parents give their children the chance to experience classical music. Then, Korea will be a powerful country of classic culture.
Owing to his peculiar softness, CAH could easily interview Kim Nam-yoon. He always tries to develop cultural level of Korean. In March, all of thing start and move dynamically. Let’s move and enjoy the classical music which has soft melodies!
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