Q & A – Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim – Soaring ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’


Photo of Jeeyoon Kim by Dario Acosta

Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim will celebrate the national release of her newest album ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ with a concert on Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at the Auditorium at TSRI (The Scripps Research Institute).

Jeeyoon’s concert events combine dazzling technical mastery and profound musicianship with her personal commentary on stage. The ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ project will also feature a unique collaboration with newly commissioned visual art by NY based illustrator, Moonsub Shin. Each of the twelve drawings by Mr. Shin depicts       a movement of Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1  by Johannes Brahms, nicknamed the ‘philosophical variations’.

Audiences will experience a new, more engaging way of listening to a classical concert with her commentary on stage. This one-hour concert without an intermission will conclude with an after-concert reception.

Getting to Know Jeeyoon Kim

Q & A Jeeyoon Kim and Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

SJF: What has been your inspiration for your upcoming new CD/Album, ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’?

JK: I wanted to create a feeling of lightness and hope through my new album. I was imagining a bird flying over the horizon as an inspiration. Through music, we can fly together!

SJF: Please tell us about your experience recording in NYC?

JK: I came back to NYC to record the ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ album at Oktaven Studio where I recorded my previous album, ‘10 More Minutes’. I love going there, as Ryan Streber is an excellent recording engineer and their Hamburg Steinway D is fun to play! Recording is a totally different beast in itself compared to live concerts as there is no audience – yet you have to create an invisible world listening to you in that quiet space alone with microphones only. You would think it is somewhat easier to record than performing live, but it is in a way more difficult as there is another possible retake of the same piece mentally. I have to keep that live performance momentum for a longer time like 3 or 4 hours straight. In the beginning of the my recording process, I find myself wanting to have a live audience, but then I have started to enjoy this process as a completely different art form as it is; enjoying the limitless possibility I could experiment making subtle changes each time I play.

SJF: Are you happy with your new album?

JK: Haha. Yes! One said that when musicians record an album, they often get frustrated because they wish for their 20 or 30 years advanced version of them at that moment. I totally understand why they say that, we musicians are crazy in that way.  But I learn to let go also. I think recording is just a slice of where I am now as a person and musician. Looking back this album in 30 years from now, I think I will be still okay with what is as I know I put everything I could during that moment. That is all I can do at any given moment.   

SJF: Describe your experience ‘before, during and after’ at Carnegie Hall…

Photo of Jeeyoon Kim by Fadi Kheir

JK: It was an amazing experience. What surprised me the most was how much I could immerse myself into the music. I was at Carnegie Hall with one of the most amazing instruments and superb acoustic hall in the world, but I was in somewhere between here and heaven. Nothing mattered, nothing could even stop me going there. Before I went on stage, I was thinking as if it could be the last day of my life. When you think that way, it really liberates you. Little things didn’t matter. All I had to do is to walk on the stage with smile, putting my hands on the piano with overwhelming gratitude of that moment and the people, and being merely a cup for the music that I play.

After the Carnegie Hall concert, I was still myself. Well, I didn’t die afterwards either. Haha. Same sun, same moon, everything was same, except for the fact that I was stronger. I gained a great dose of love from the audience, a wonderful energy from the experience. I felt like I went through a bootcamp mentally and musically, and I’ve gained unreturnable strength by having to go through it.

SJF: What should an audience member expect or experience during your ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ Concert?

JK: Well…First of all, I hope all of you can make it to my ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ concert at some point! It will be somewhat familiar if you have been to my ‘10 More Minutes’ concert in the past. I will still guide you for each piece that I will be playing on stage, and yes, there will be no program at first but given out only when you leave the hall. Also there is no intermission for my concerts. I really like to keep the momentum going without a break, so please make your restroom stops before my concerts! It will run about an hour and 15 minutes or so!

And this concert will feature illustrations by a NY based artist, Moonsub Shin for Brahms’ Variation, Op. 21, No. 1. He created newly commissioned illustrations by listening to this piece. It was such a fun collaboration! When I played a piece, he also imagined some visuals in his head. Afterwards when we communicated with his visual images and what I was feeling, it was on point of what I was imagining but even better! This would be a very interesting experience for me and for the audience. I can’t wait to share my new experiment with you! I love it, and I am sure you will too.

SJF: How do you prepare for your concerts? Routines? Diet? Exercise? How many hours rehearsing?

JK: How I prepare for my concerts are exactly the same as how I have normally lived, in a way, since I was four years old.  Haha. Playing piano everyday between 3 to 5 hours or so depending on the day, eating healthy, doing some variations of working out such as a workout with a trainer, swimming, yoga or simply going for a walk. I keep my morning practice routine as the first thing in the morning after a simple breakfast, and often do a mental practice when I first open my eyes in my bed. Sometimes going through the music, other times a self-affirmation in my mind. I don’t try to do anything so differently because of concerts as I feel that concerts are just an extension of my life.

SJF: What do you do for fun between concerts and appearances?

JK: I love traveling. I love the feeling of growth when you go to a new environment. I come back with a new perspective of life.

It may not sound so relaxing per se, but I do love studying other languages. That is really refreshing for me. It has been about a year since I started to study Spanish. I may not be the most fluent speaker yet, but I surely find it fun to exercise my brain while being able to communicate in a different language. Hablamos en español si puede por futuro!

SJF: Is it isolating being a solo performer?

Photo of Jeeyoon Kim by Fadi Kheir

JK: Is it? Absolutely not! We are all alone in our life journey. But we are never isolated as we are surrounded by all of our friends and family, and for me, with God. I believe the same thing on stage. I have music and you together, as I am walking with my own feet. It is full of love.

SJF: How should one listen to the new album?

JK: I wish for you to listen to it with closed-ear headphones if you can, with reading my description for each piece from my booklet. (You can find the digital version of it at www.OverAboveBeyondProject.com)

You might listen to all in one sitting or just one track at a time, but I hope you can listen to Brahms Op. 21, No. 1 from track number 4 through 15 in one sitting as it would make more sense to listen as a whole than breaking it down.

I also suggest that as you listen to any of my tracks, let your mind create a visual image in your head. And at a later time, if you find a suitable image in real time, take a photo with your phone, and share it with me through #OverAboveBeyondProject.

SJF: What are three values that you believe in?

JK: Three values I believe in are:

1. Live as if today is the last day of your life, focusing on now at any given moment

2. Always be thankful

3. Be compassionate

SJF: Many thanks Jeeyoon, and best wishes as you soar ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’!

Photo of Jeeyoon Kim by Dario Acosta

“As a pianist, one of the most rewarding moments is when I feel that I have lifted someone’s soul with my playing and when I feel that I am deeply connected with listeners in the very moment of sharing music. It has become clear to me that it is why I make music. Through ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’, my wish is to give an audience a sense of hope, lightness, and a new beginning. These are pieces that have given me a sense of joy, weightlessness, and peace. Join me for this special flight and receive what music has given to us. Together let’s fly Over. Above. Beyond.”!   –Jeeyoon

TICKET INFORMATION: Single General Admission tickets for the Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim’s ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ Concert are $30 and are available at:


LOCATION: Auditorium at The Scripps Research Institute; 10620 Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego, CA 92121. There will be free parking.

Map and Directions:  http://auditorium.scripps.edu/directions.html

More about Jeeyoon Kim at www.jeeyoonkim.com.

More about ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ at www.overabovebeyondproject.com

“Like” on Facebook – Jeeyoon Kim, Pianist; “Follow” on Twitter @Jeeyoon_Pianist and Instagram @jeeyoonkimpianist with the hashtag #overabovebeyondproject

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2 thoughts on “Q & A – Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim – Soaring ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’

    1. Thank you Mike! This will be an amazing concert as well as an exciting collaboration between music and art.

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