Critically acclaimed cellist Jonah Kim made his solo debut with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2003. The same year, he also appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra where the Washington Post music critic Joseph McLellan called him simply, “the next Yo-Yo Ma.” Mr. Kim has soloed with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonia, Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional, Orchestra Filarmonica, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Symphony of the Americas and many others. He has played in prestigious venues such as New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, California’s Montalvo Arts Center, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Kravis Center in Palm Beach, the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, the Phillips Collection and the John F. Kennedy Center in DC where Anne Midgette of the Washington Post praised, “Kim flirted with the line, shaped it, wrapped it around his fingers, pulled it out in a new dimension, all with practiced ease.”
Also highly sought after internationally as a chamber musician, Mr. Kim frequents festivals like the Atlantic Music Festival, Bari International Music Festival, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Music in May Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo’s Festival Mozaic. As a fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, statistically the most exclusive educational institution in the world, he studied the piano trio literature comprehensively with his trio with Chen Xi and Yuja Wang. Since then, he has collaborated with world class artists on four continents, sharing the stage with Martin Beaver, Bella Hristova, Naomi Kudo, Jon Nakamatsu, Elmar Oliveira, Ian Swensen, and Carmit Zori in recent seasons. In a review of his Debussy cello sonata with Ensemble San Francisco at Alliance Français’ French Festival 2015, San Francisco Classical Voice critic David Bratman exclaimed “this was an excellent performance, the best I’ve heard of this piece.” Mr. Kim has played for Ensemble SF since its founding.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Mr. Kim immigrated to the United States in 1995. His father, a Protestant pastor, possessed a keen ear for music despite no formal musical training and introduced him to the cello through VHS tapes of Pablo Casals playing the Bach’s Solo Cello Suites. Learning strictly by imitation, the seven-year-old was invited to train at the Juilliard School within the year. So began his professional training at Juilliard, but it was not until he met world renowned soloist and pedagogue Janos Starker the following summer that he became certain music was his calling. Attending a New York City public school, learning to speak English, and adjusting to life in the United States was not always easy. Starker’s invitation to come study with him was pivotal, inspiring the young cellist to continue with renewed motivation. Starker later remarked, “Jonah is an exceptional talent. He is at the top of his generation.”
Mr. Kim graduated from two of the most prestigious conservatories in the world, the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute, while still only 17 years old. His biggest musical influences include Janos Starker, Mstislav Rostropovich, Lynn Harrell and Yo-Yo Ma. He has also studied with cellists Peter Wiley, Orlando Cole, David Soyer, Joel Krosnick, Aldo Parisot, violinists Jaime Laredo, Aaron Rosand, Joseph Silverstein, Arnold Steinhardt, and pianists Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, Seymour Lipkin, Claude Frank and Edward Aldwell.
Mr. Kim’s recordings and live performances can be heard on international, national and local radio and TV networks. He also records for artists in other genres and has collaborated live in concert with Andrea Bocelli, Mariah Carey, Cristian Castro, Vic Damone and Kenny Rogers to name a few. Dedicated to sharing music in ways that positively impact the community, Mr. Kim plays in outreach events wherever he performs. He visits schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities and even juvenile detention centers with Ensemble SF, connecting not only through performance, but also in masterclasses and lectures as teacher and coach. He is also the youngest instructor at CelloSpeak, a cello retreat at Bryn Mawr College, where he has taught for the last five years. He plays a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume made in 1845 as well as a 2016 copy of it by Haide Lin. His bow is by Jules Fétique from the workshop of Eugène Sartory in Paris circa 1904.