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Violinist follows her dream to Carnegie Hall stage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Clara-Jumi Kang was a little girl, she dreamed of playing the violin in Carnegie Hall. At age 7, as a student of the Juilliard School’s teachers Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang, she attended concerts at Carnegie Hall hoping that one day she would find herself on that revered stage.

On May 4, her dream came true. Twenty-four-year-old Kang, accompanied by pianist Yeol Eum Son, presented her debut recital in Stern Auditorium. The recital, which included works by Bach, Beethoven and Ravel, was part of a concert package that Kang won when she was awarded first prize at the 2010 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.

“I’m traveling and playing a lot now,” said Kang, who performs with the Santa Fe Symphony next Sunday. “I can’t even count how many concerts I have on the calendar.”

If you go
WHAT: Santa Fe Sympony’s Grand Finale concert with violinist Clara-Jumi Kang
WHEN: 4 p.m. May 20
WHERE: Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco, Santa Fe
HOW MUCH: $20-$70; call 505-983-1414 or 505-988-1234

The Santa Fe Symphony’s Grand Finale concert features Kang playing Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole.

“The piece has a very Spanish feel to it,” Kang said. “It’s quite technically difficult. It’s a work I’ve performed quite a bit. The symphony asked me to do it with them.”

For close to 20 years, Kang has logged thousands of miles on planes in order to present concerts in venues worldwide. Her first professional performance took place with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra when she was 5 years old. Her parents, who were born in Korea and have had careers in Germany as opera singers, brought her to the United States when she was 7 so she could study at the Juilliard School. During the three and a half years she was based in New York, she continued to travel and perform throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. At age 9 she made her first recording, a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, with one of her siblings.

“I have three siblings, and two of them are musicians,” she said. “My whole family is very musical.”

Although Kang’s parents have moved back to Korea, she has chosen to live in Germany, where she earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. She has returned to study with Christopher Poppen, who was her teacher when she was 15 years old and a student at the Berlin Hanns Eisler Hochschule.

With her formal education completed and a number of top prizes in international violin competitions under her belt, including first prize in the 2010 Sendai International Violin Competition and second prize in the 2009 Hannover International Violin Competition, Kang is focusing completely on touring. “My concert engagements are divided between doing recitals and concertos,” she added.

Next Sunday’s performance also features the two well-known orchestral works, “Billy the Kid” by Aaron Copland and “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky.