Eunbi Kim and Murakami Music: a Tuxedo Revolt Profile

Eunbi Kim Murakami Music

One of the most fun things I get to do while writing this blog is to interview incredibly creative and dynamic artists who embody Tuxedo Revolt ideals. For the first Tuxedo Revolt Blog profile in 2013, I’m thrilled to profile my good friend and colleague Eunbi Kim.

Eunbi is an excellent musician, has a dynamic personality and an entrepreneurial spirit. As you’ll see, these three traits are integral to her artistry. Her recent performance at the Cell Theater in New York City, entitled Murakami Music, embodied Eunbi’s creative nature, pursuit of innovation in the performance of classical music, and the Tuxedo Revolt ideal to make classical music performances socially relevant. I sat down with Eunbi last week to talk about Murakami Music  as well as her creative process in creating the performance event.

The details at a glance:

 Performance name: “Overture” 

The Musicians: Eunbi Kim , piano and artist-in-residence

 Guest artists: Laura Snell, actress; Nelly Rocha, cello; Christopher Scanlon, trumpet

 When: Friday January 18th, 2013 at 8pm

 Where: The Cell Theatre (New York, NY)

 What: A preview concert of performances to be developed into large-scale projects at the Cell in 2013-14 during Eunbi’s  artist residency. Program included solo piano works by Debussy, excerpts of “Murakami Music” with music by Chopin, Schumann, and Beatles interspersed with live readings by actress Laura Snell, and performances by chamber group “Blink Ensemble” of contemporary works written by William Schmidt and Carson Cooman for piano, cello, and trumpet. 

Like many Tuxedo Revolt blog readers, Eunbi is a young artist, recently graduated with her Master’s of Music degree, and launching her career in the midst of the recession. Sounds a bit ominous (and a little too close to home), right? Yet, in the face of opposition, Eunbi is moving forward. These are Tuxedo Revolt ideals; to be optimistic, creative and relevant.  As a classically trained pianist, Eunbi sought ways to connect her performances to potential audiences and to make the socially relevant. She believes that she can, through her own innovation and creativity, sidestep many of the problems that plague the traditional performing arts– and  she is doing exactly that.

I asked Eunbi what was her point of inspiration for Murakami Music– you might find her response rings true for you also:

Eunbi is a thinker and innovator. But the most unique aspect of her artistry is her ability to seek out creative performance solutions that integrate the social elements she found missing in the performances of others. Thus, the Murakami Music project was born. In our interview, Eunbi’s face lit up when I asked her to describe the project and its origins.

 “I had the inspiration to create the Murakami Music program around one year ago when I thought about what I really wanted to say and create as a performer.” said Eunbi. “I had this idea in my head for the longest time of setting writer Haruki Murakami’s novels to music by taking selected reading passages and performing solo concert music with them.  He creates amazing texture in his works through heavily referencing music. I saw the potential in my head for a live performance. Then I found an amazing collaborator, actress Laura Snell, who is also passionate about Murakami’s novels, storytelling, theatre, and also music- she is an accomplished pianist as well.”

“We proposed this project to the Cell Theatre in Manhattan, which they accepted. We workshopped and presented it this past October with ideas of making it an evening length concert in the future. At the end of 2012, the directors of the Cell asked me if I would like to do an artist residency, which was really exciting. It meant that I would have incredible support to present new works and projects at the cell. Then, this idea of a preview concert came about where we could show short performances of this project as well as my project with Blink Ensemble- performing accessible contemporary music for an unusual instrumentation- piano, trumpet, cello.”

I feel that there is much to learn from Eunbi’s enthusiastic response. First, we must understand that ideas need time to incubate and/or percolate in our minds for a time before they are ready to be introduced to the world. Second (and most importantly), we must realize the when an opportunity presents itself to us, we must jump at the chance to bring our ideas to life.

For Eunbi, the idea for her project wasn’t perfected in her mind before seizing the opportunity to make it a reality. I asked Eunbi what kept her going on this project, how she and her collaborators managed to tie together all the loose ends, and what it took to bring this project from a thought into reality. Her response was not the lofty or idealistic response that you might expect from a classical musician, but rather– a response filled with determination and work ethic:

 “Truthfully, a deadline.” said Eunbi about what kept her on track.  “It’s unromantic but it’s the truth. There was also a sense of responsibility.”

 “We [the musicians] were all passionate about the concert and had so many ideas and dreams of its potential– but it can all become overwhelming when it has to be put into action. Creating something absolutely new and innovative like Murakami Music was daunting- it takes a lot of work and emotional energy (tons of self-doubt), more than people realize.”

“Even though I had the Cell’s support, there were lots of logistics and marketing that I had to take care of in order for the concert to be a success. There is responsibility to my audience that they have the best possible experience- they are my guests. There is responsibility to the other performers that I have an audience that will be there to support their creativity.”

You can see that Eunbi Kim feels a heartfelt and deep obligation to her audience– an obligation that transcends all aspects of the art she creates. From the music itself, to the logistics surrounding the concert experience, Eunbi puts her audience’s best interest  as a top priority.

Eunbi is a great example of a much needed mindset for performers today. We must break away from any notion that what we do as performers we do for ourselves. It simply isn’t so. Our performances help our audiences connect with our art–and us as individual people. We must take these connections into every level of planning, rehearsal, and performance we undertake when turning our ideas into reality.

Stay tuned for more artist profiles from Tuxedo Revolt coming you way!


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