Dasol Kim Makes New York Premiere on Stage at Merkin Concert Hall

I have been writing about the Young Concert Artists (YCA) since my profile of its inspired and legendary founder Susan Wadsworth in 2010 (Wikipedia). Although I have written about the gifted performers of YCA for almost a decade, covering the debut New York performances of such talent as Hahn-BinCaroline GouldingRaphaël SévèreAleksandr HaskinJeanine de Bique, and Yun-Chin Zhou, nothing prepared me for the premier of pianist Dasol Kim last week.

Showing true artistry and incredible range, Dasol performed in the 56th Young Concert Artists Series at Merkin Concert Hall in The Peter Jay Sharp Concert. The delightful program was beautifully selected -- and demonstrated the pianist's impressive technique and nuanced sensitivity. The sold-out concert was particularly thoughtful and performed in memory of Norman Peck.

Dasol's intense style was particularly appropriate for the sounds of New York-based composer Samuel Barber. He also played brilliantly Beethoven's Piano Sonata 8 in C minor, Op. 13, Pathétique, as well as an astounding 24 preludes by Frédéric Chopin. His performance brought an extremely enthusiastic audience to a standing ovation.

Dasol showed virtuosic command of the entire keyboard throughout the concert. His deft handling of the Barber, however, was met with a most raucous ovation by the entire hall -- even by would-be skeptics of more contemporary pieces. I overheard one gentleman seated behind me who noted to his companion: "When he first started the piece, I was thinking 'I might hate this... But I really loved it! That was spectacular!'"

It was impressive to hear all 24 Chopin Preludes in a single performance. These masterful pieces are each beautiful and complex. For an artist to be able to convey the full range of emotional depth of each while performing all 24 preludes in succession -- almost 40 minutes of skillful, varying technique -- was truly a rare experience.

Dasol graduated from the Hannover Music School in Germany and today lives in Berlin. He will make his Washington D.C. debut next year, sponsored by the Korean Concert Society Prize. Chatting with him at the after-party, I was struck by how incredibly humble this outstanding young pianist is.

I remember so clearly writing about the leadership and legacy of Susan Wadsworth, founder of Young Concert Artists (YCA) at the time of YCA’s fiftieth anniversary. This year marks the institutions 56th year.

I enjoy following notes in the program. I chuckled when I read the lines nine year-old Samuel Barber penned to his mother, stating "I have written to tell you of a worrying secret. Now don't cry when you read it because it is neither your fault or mine. I suppose I will have to tell it now without any nonsense. To begin with, I was not meant to be an athlete. I was meant to be a composer and will be, I'm sure." I wonder how many of the YCA artists I have covered felt similarly?

As the head of a foundation supporting young global leadership in the arts and education, I firmly believe that Young Concert Artists is critically important to the future of music here and abroad. YCA founder Susan Wadsworth never ceases to amaze me with her tireless efforts to support young talent.  Since 1961, Susan has been identifying and mentoring among the best musical minds in the world, each one a thought leaders and global citizen in their own right. May she never retire!

With Grace Hsieh.

See also by Jim Luce:

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