Orchestra Names A Concertmaster David Kim, A Dallas Symphony Orchestra Violinist, Was One Of Two Finalists. He's Feeling ''euphoria,'' He Said.

Posted: May 09, 1999

The Philadelphia Orchestra's search for a concertmaster is over. David Kim, 35-year-old senior associate concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, has been offered the position and would begin in September.

The concertmaster is second only to the music director in leadership within the symphony orchestra. The violinist is the conductor's main liaison with the players; the principal determines technical and interpretative matters such as string bowings, and how the dominant strings relate to the wind, brass and percussion families.

The first chair has been vacant since concertmaster Erez Ofer departed in March 1998. Ofer was not granted tenure after the standard and probationary one-year contract. In Ofer's absence, second concertmaster William De Pasquale has served as acting concertmaster.

Kim is currently completing a one-year contract with the Dallas orchestra as the senior of three associate concertmasters. "I'm feeling total euphoria: It's the biggest moment in my life!" he said of the appointment by telephone Friday from Dallas.

The offer was made following Kim's final concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra here on Tuesday, in a Richard Strauss program. Continuing an audition process begun at the finals in February, he performed as concertmaster for two subscription programs during April and May.

"It was amazing how well David fit in with the orchestra musically and otherwise from the first day," said Barbara Govatos, a violinist and a member of the auditioning committee. "He is very gifted in his leadership abilities, no doubt from his chamber-music experience."

The violinist, of Korean ancestry, was born in Carbondale, Ill. "My father is a college teacher, and we moved around so much it's easier to call me a New Yorker." Kim trained at the Juilliard School. Before joining the Dallas Symphony, he was the concertmaster of New York's Jupiter Symphony and the Chamber Virtuosi in Long Island. He has also been concertmaster of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra. His parents were born in Seoul, Korea, where Kim maintains an active concert schedule.

He spent his childhood in Clarion, Pa., and Columbia, S.C. He was born May 24, 1963.

His mother, a pianist, died when he was 14; his father is a professor of computer science at the University of Rhode Island.

Kim received bachelor's and master's degrees from Juilliard, where his violin teachers were Dorothy DeLay and Felix Galimir.

Another mentor is Anshel Brusilow, a former concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

"Brusilow is my inspiration," Kim said. "I have all of his recordings. Of all the great concertmasters, I think he was the greatest. When I decided I wanted to be a concertmaster, he was the person I went to."

Brusilow now lives in Dallas, where he also teaches conducting.

Kim decided on the career path two years ago when he was 33. He sent his resume to the Philadelphia Orchestra, but was turned down for an audition.

"I sent my resume before I had the Dallas job when I was doing chamber music and solo stuff. They said they would strongly encourage me not to come, because I had no major professional orchestra experience, which I understand."

But when he won the Dallas post in December 1997, he made up for that. Kim has a lot of friends in the Philadelphia Orchestra, he said, including principal violist Roberto Diaz, with whom he performed in a chamber trio for five years. Diaz followed Kim's progress in Dallas and encouraged him to reapply for an audition here in February.

Kim was one of two concertmaster finalists. The other was Ilya Kaler, concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic. Music director Wolfgang Sawallisch invited both to continue the audition process by performing with the orchestra for subscription concerts. Kaler did so earlier this winter; Kim's turn came last month during subscription concerts that included the Richard Strauss program at Carnegie Hall.

Another of the new concertmaster's friends is Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Robert Chen, the recently appointed concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. "He's a wonderful player," Kim said of Chen.

Chen, who is 30 and from Taiwan, made the concertmaster finals in Philadelphia a year ago, but was considered at the time too inexperienced for the post. Instead, he was given a one-year appointment in the first-violin section. Honoring his contract, Chen will play on the orchestra tour of Asia that begins tomorrow; he assumes responsibilities in Chicago in September.

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