Artist of the Issue: Kyle Shin
Not only is Kyle Shin ’20 passionate about playing music, but it has also become an instrument to help him form deep bonds with some of his closest friends at Hopkins.
Shin began attending Hopkins in ninth grade and has been involved with Hopkins’ instrumental music program for the duration of his time on The Hill. Shin’s love for music started nearly a decade before he came to Hopkins. Shin recalled one of his first recitals: “I was very scared to perform in front of other people at first but after I performed Schumann’s ‘The Happy Farmer’ very well for a piano recital in elementary school, I gained a lot of confidence and I’ve never had stage fright since.” Shin has continued playing simply because of his “love for music in general.” He testified that “there’s really no better feeling than playing a piece you love and sharing that with the audience when you perform.” To Shin, it’s a way to “express emotions.”
Shin has “loved playing at Hopkins.” Because Shin’s cello teacher is based near Hartford, Shin “found it difficult to join chamber ensembles because of distance.” Chamber music is a subset of the classical genre in which pieces are performed by a relatively small ensemble. Luckily for Shin, there is no shortage of opportunities to play chamber music at Hopkins. Shin feels fortunate that he got the chance to branch out from the solo pieces he typically played and try a new type of music. He’s also thankful that he has had the chance to be taught by Arts Department Chair and Director of Instrumental Music Robert Smith. Shin described Smith as “a fantastic conductor and a really exceptional chamber coach.” Shin and Smith had the chance to perform together at the Mendelssohn Quartet in 2017.
Shin initially joined the Hopkins Orchestra to continue developing his craft and was surprised by how quickly he connected with his fellow musicians. Shin said that he “met his best friend, Zach Blake ’19, by being stand partners.” Shin said that Blake, along with Shin’s current stand partner, Brandon Faunce ’22, are “great people,” who “make orchestra such a great period.” Though the friends that Shin made in orchestra take their art seriously, they still know how to have fun. Shin recalled “playing ‘Hallelujah’ in the winter concert” one year when Shin and Blake “clowned around and did super excessive and showy movements that were hilarious.” Shin also fondly remembered last year’s spring concert in which he, along with Alex Zhang ’19, Ava Cho ’22, and Noah Stein ’21 “played an awesome Shostakovich quartet” that Shin “will never forget.” Shin “highly recommend[s] joining Orchestra” to any budding musician and he described the orchestra room as a place where “you get to meet great people and play awesome music.”
Although Shin’s graduation will be a loss to the Hopkins Orchestra, he isn’t going far, as he has committed to Yale University. Shin plans to audition for the Yale Symphony Orchestra and hopes to “keep up piano as well.” Shin plans to continue playing because “it’s a huge part” of his identity.
Despite Shin’s love of music, he doesn’t plan to pursue a degree in it because, in his words; “that is a lot of work.” Instead, he wants to “keep it as a hobby” throughout his life. He said, “From an outside perspective, it might seem that playing an instrument is a lot of work and a huge commitment because of all the practicing and concerts. However, I believe music is what you make of it. If you want to be competitive and do competitions and things like that, then it can become tiring and more of a chore. Some music people I know burn out by the time they are in college because of how tiring music was for them in high school. I chose a different route; instead of risking losing my love of music, I barely do any competitions and do music for music’s sake. Every time I practice, it is because I want to and not because I need to; I want to rest by immersing myself in the music, I want to practice to see myself get better, and I want to perform because I want to share what I can do.”