Featured Artist interview with soprano Wonjung Kim – November 2018
How did you get started in singing? Did you always know you would be a soprano?
I was a pianist first, but I felt my hands were too small to be really successful! Friends and teachers encouraged me to explore singing. I went to have a lesson with a famous teacher in Korea when I was 16, and she accepted me as her student. I didn’t think I’d be a “classical” soprano at first—in fact, I secretly wanted to be a folk and pop singer with guitar in hand like a Judy Collins!
When did you move to Leonia? Has life in Leonia had an influence on your singing career?
About five years ago in 2013. I am married to a musician and surrounded in Leonia by a community of wonderful musicians that have been an inspiration. Living in Leonia has even led to singing opportunities right here in town. I will be performing with the Leonia Chamber Musicians again in February. The concert will benefit the Leonia High School Music Program.
You maintain a busy international performance schedule. Where have you performed recently?
In the summer I performed at the Orlando Music Festival in the Netherlands and enjoyed working closely with legendary Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. I have a concert coming up in Korea on November 14th. The program is all Schönberg, and I will be singing “Vier Lieder, op.2″ and “Brettl-Lieder”.
Do you have a personal philosophy or point of view that you express when you perform?
Practice, practice, practice! “IPC”: Insistence, Persistence, Consistency. But when I’m out there, on stage, my goal is simply this: share love.
What is the most challenging part of being a soprano?
Because my body is my instrument, I really have to stay in good shape, both physically and mentally. It’s not only about the act of singing—it’s the whole package. The study and practice of yoga has been very good for me.
You have recently become a registered yoga teacher. How has yoga influenced you as a soprano?
I feel so lucky to have found yoga! I am just finishing my 500-hour advanced yoga teacher training. Next week I’ll be certified as Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 500 by Yoga Alliance. For me, breath is essential. Whether I am singing or practicing yoga—one discipline informs the other. I also teach voice, and I have found that my students often respond more quickly to concepts when I use principles of yoga in my teaching.
Who influenced your career the most?
My voice teacher and great friend of 37 years, Fred Carama. Fred lived and taught here in New York for the past several years but now lives in California—but I still have lessons with him from time to time! My goal as a voice teacher is to combine the great technique I learned from Fred with my developing knowledge of yoga to help students blend body, mind and soul.
What is the most rewarding experience you had as a vocalist?
My brother-in-law, whose sister is one of the most successful pianists in Korea, paid me a wonderful compliment after a recital I sang in Korea 15 years ago. Though he’s not a musician, he knows music and has very particular likes and especially dislikes! He was driving me home after this concert and said, “Tonight I saw a true artist perform.” That meant so much to me.
What is your favorite song or aria to sing?
I have so many songs I love to sing in many genres and styles. Here are a few: Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga” from his opera, “Rinaldo”; Kurt Weill’s “My Ship”; “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.
What inspires you, or where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in life, anywhere, any time, with anyone! Life itself is an inspiration.