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The David Kim Experience at The Hill

The Philadelphia Orchestra is a world-renowned orchestra, revered for its distinct sound that captivates the hearts and minds of audience members. Lovers of music and supporters of the arts have patronized the Philadelphia Orchestra, including many residents of The Hill at Whitemarsh.

One of the driving forces behind the brilliant sounds of the Philadelphia Orchestra is David Kim. Mr. Kim is the Concertmaster, and in that role he has been leading the first violin section of the Orchestra since 1999. Although he is a native of Illinois, Mr. Kim has lived and worked in the Philadelphia area for over two decades, which has allowed him to perform for residents of The Hill at Whitemarsh for over a decade.

Mr. Kim was first introduced to The Hill through resident Nancy Hess, who had run the Temple University Music Preparatory Division for years prior to her retirement. Ms. Hess played an integral role in getting the Concert Series at The Hill up and running, due in part to her relationships with talented musicians.

“Nancy Hess was a mentor to many of my young colleagues in the Orchestra, and they were more than willing to come play at The Hill because of what a special woman she was,” says Mr. Kim. “Nancy was a great organizer, and the music program that she built for The Hill is a real testament to that. It’s such an incredible experience, and many residents invite guests from outside the community to come watch and listen to the performances.”

Mr. Kim’s performance has always been the last of the season for The Hill’s music program—a cherry on top of a wonderful and well-curated year of intimate music experiences for residents.

“I consider it a great honor to play at The Hill. The residents are such a sophisticated group, and many of them have been lifelong patrons of the Orchestra. They expect world-class performances and have a great appreciation of the arts in general,” Mr. Kim says.

“Part of what makes the experience so magical is the intimacy of the performance space,” he adds. “All of the music performances take place in the Founders Room, which has high ceilings, beautiful moldings, and lovely decor. It almost
feels like a small theatre, and it’s always packed. The acoustics are wonderful. The best part, however, is at the end of the performance when the back wall opens up to reveal a bar, and we get to have a little reception to celebrate another successful season.”

According to Mr. Kim, the experience is elevated yet deeply personal. Knowing his audience and the space at The Hill makes it fun for him to plan out which pieces to perform and how big or small to make his performance.

“I curate an hour of entertainment,” says Mr. Kim. “And it’s always a different piece of music. Sometimes it’s an ensemble. Sometimes duos, trios, quartets, quintets, septets. And sometimes it’s just me and a pianist. I’m a performer and an artist, but at heart, I am an entertainer and I want to give the audience what they want to hear. We don’t get too avant-garde with the music choices.”

Mr. Kim puts a good amount of thought into his music choices. He’s played pieces that have “tickled some funny bones at times” and others that have the audience walking out feeling like something touched their soul.

“I consider it a great honor to play at The Hill. The residents are such a sophisticated group, and many of them have been lifelong patrons of the Orchestra. They expect world-class performances and have a great appreciation of the arts in general.”

“The Orchestra performs over 150 concerts each year, which provides plenty of variety and lots of music for me to learn!” Mr. Kim says. “My concerts at The Hill are more intimate, which allows me to play great chamber music that leaves so much to be explored—it’s probing, interesting, and challenging.”

In addition to being excited about his return to the stage for the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Kim doesn’t hesitate when asked if he is looking forward to playing live performances at The Hill again. “It doesn’t matter how big the stage is; I’m looking forward to the act of walking out in front of a live audience and seeing the excitement and anticipation on people’s faces, knowing they are about to experience something remarkable. The reunion will be so joyful!”