Newberg youth wins prestigious competition in New York

For many in the select group of musicians granted the honor of performing at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Fourteen-year-old Newberg resident Nathan Kim’s first appearance at one of music’s most hallowed halls, on the other hand, truly was his debut — the first of more to come — as he has already been invited to perform there again this spring.

Just a day after competing at the winner’s recital Feb. 16 and earning the grand prize at the American Fine Arts Festival International (AFAF) Concerto Competition, Kim learned that he had placed second in the American Protégé International Music Competition, which will hold its winner’s recital at Carnegie Hall April SUBMITTED - Where dreams come true - 14-year-old Newberg resident Nathan Kim performs Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.15 in A minor during the     winner's recital of the American Fine Arts Festival International Concerto Competition at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Kim was one of three musicians awarded the competitions grand prize.

“That was very unexpected because I knew that I had entered, but playing Carnegie Hall twice is beyond something I’d imagine,” Kim said.

Kim won first place in his division (ages 7 to 13) of the AFAF competition for his recording, accompanied by his teacher Renato Fabbro, of the first movement from Prokofieff’s Piano Concerto No.3 in C-major, but performed Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 at the winner’s recital.

“I like fast pieces and this just matches with me,” Kim said. “It’s a demanding piece because at the end I was sweating. There are a lot of big reaches.”

Kim said he couldn’t really put into words what was going through his mind during the performance, but that despite playing in front of a relatively small audience, the legendary venue, as a setting, actually delivered on the high expectations that are natural to lifelong dreams.

“Everything was perfect: the stage, the piano, the acoustics. Everything,” Kim said. “The people were perfect too.”

Still floating from the experience of performing, Kim was caught off guard when it was announced that he had been awarded the competition’s grand prize, which he shared with violinist Hina Khuong-Huu and flautist Yibiao Wang, both of whom hail from New York.

“Just playing at Carnegie Hall was enough for me,” Kim said. “The grand prize was a good cherry on the top, a good finish.”

Kim submitted solo recordings of Hungarian Rhapsody and Emma Lou Diemer’s Tocata to the American Protégé competition and will perform the former again at the recital in April.

Fabbro, a professor at the University of Portland, said that Kim’s resume is both impressive and ever growing, and that wins like the AFAF will only open more opportunities for him moving forward.

“It’s very exciting to see how far he’s come since I started teaching him,” Fabbro said. “It’s rewarding to see all the hard work and increases in musicianship and technique he’s acquired.”

Kim’s performance M.O. is all about intense focus, so he said that having performed at Carnegie once already won’t really change how he approaches his second appearance.

“I don’t think I’ll be comfortable because I can’t really let my guard down,” Kim said. “I can’t get into my comfort zone because (when) I am in my comfort zone, I’ll get more easily distracted and I might make mistakes.”

Kim has no competition plans for the near future, but not surprisingly, he will still be spending a lot of time seated at his piano in the coming months.

“I will just be practicing every day getting ready for the next one,” Kim said. “Hopefully the outcome can be as good as the Carnegie Hall experience.”

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