Juliette Kang - Violinist
The many hats of an artist
An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, Spring 2008
It’s lunch time in Philly. Juliette Kang, internationally known violinist, is walking towards the Caribbean Jerk Hut to meet her husband for lunch. “We’ve just finished two student concerts,” she explains as she walks and talks on her cell phone. “I’m the First Associate Concertmaster with the Philadelphia Orchestra, a position I have held since 2005. Today we performed Scheherazade with a storyteller for students from Grade 2 through to Grade 12. It is so good to be reaching the young.”
Kang, born in Edmonton to Korean parents, knows all about the importance of music for children; she started playing violin when she was only four. “My mother was a piano teacher. I have two older sisters and because I was the smallest I was started on the violin with the Suzuki method. It was clear early on that I took to it. James Keene of the Edmonton Symphony was my teacher. At age ten I went to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and my mother came with me. It was hard for my parents to be separated for so long each year – a sacrifice they made. I was younger than most students but I felt warm and insulated. I loved playing in an orchestra even back then.”
With her mother she travelled back and forth from Edmonton. “It’s not everybody’s path in life,” adds Kang who got used to flying in and out of airports. “Like athletes we develop techniques and skills as musicians and put in all those hours of training and practice. Music stays with you for life – it gives back what you put into it.”
Just like sports, music requires good teachers and coaches. “I was lucky to have such wonderful teachers from the beginning,” explains Kang.
A medalist and international competition winner from the age of 13 and recipient of numerous Canadian awards, Kang has been a member of the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and assistant concertmaster with the Boston Symphony Orchestra before joining the Philadelphia Orchestra. “I’ve curtailed my solo performing because of my orchestral position, and because of being a mother,” she adds, referring to her two-year-old daughter Rosalie. “We call her Rosie. Most importantly these days I’m a mother. So, I only do three or four solo performances a season.”
At this point her husband arrived, ready to order lunch... “Then I have to
get some groceries, get my daughter from daycare, then go
home, just a few blocks from the concert hall downtown, in
a little brick row-house; it’s just a 15-minute walk!” says
Kang, happy violinist, wife and mother.
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