Spreading Love and Kindness through Music

For almost as long as Andrew Kim ’17 can remember, a violin has always been close at hand. Kim’s bond with his instrument-of-choice began at a very early age, when an advertisement and a conversation was enough to spark an insatiable curiosity.

“I started when I was five years old after seeing a sign outside a building that advertised violin lessons,” reflected Kim. “After asking my mom what a violin was, I begged her to sign me up.”

Kim’s love of music was apparent early on, and his dedication to the instrument exposed a real talent, one that put him in a league beyond your average middle school student. By eighth grade, he was a student in the Julliard Pre-College Division. By 2016, he was named concertmaster of the Julliard Pre-College Orchestra. But the most impressive quality of Kim’s musical talent is not how much he has accomplished inside the classroom, but rather what he does with it outside the classroom.

Kim, now concluding his senior year at Regis, has been part of the Good Neighbor Ensemble since 2012, and currently serves as the ensemble’s concertmaster. The group is a student-run, non-profit orchestra that meets twice a week—once to rehearse a repertoire and a second time to visit assisted living homes and rehab centers throughout Bergen County (New Jersey).

“As a naïve eighth grader, I initially was not aware of the importance of charity and giving. Reluctant at first, I didn’t fully understand committing so much time and effort—effort that, on the outside, seemed only burdensome,” said Kim on first learning about the Good Neighbor Ensemble. But his very first visit to a local assisted living home changed his perspective completely.

“After the first visit, I understood how fulfilling it was to give so much joy to these residents simply through playing music. After that first visit, I felt inspired to keep on giving and serving, if only just to see the residents smile after each performance.”

According to Kim, there are approximately 40 volunteers in the group. “We pray at the beginning and end of each rehearsal and performance. Our visits are also accompanied by volunteers who meet with the residents before and after our performances,” added Kim.

kim2“I know that music alone cannot make a significant change in these people’s lives. However, just seeing a hint of a smile in the sick and elderly makes the work so worth it. That my small talent can benefit a crowd and make their Sunday mornings a little better pushes me to keep on with volunteer work.

“In simpler words, the spirit of giving, I learned, was a very powerful motivator.”

(Pictured: Kim served as concertmaster for the Julliard Pre-College Orchestra's performance at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall this past fall.)

Kim brought his interest in providing service through music to Regis as well. At the start of his junior year, he founded a community service group through Catalyst (Regis’s Christian Service club) called Rhythmic Regis. The group is run by Regis students alongside students from the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Together, they visit elementary schools around the Upper East Side and East Harlem regions of New York City. They play music for the boys and girls at these schools and teach them about the joys of music, hoping to encourage musical immersion. In addition to this group, Kim has been part of the Regis Jazz Band for four years and participates in school-run concerts and musical performances.

Kim’s musical accolades continue to grow. He is part of the Noctis Quartet, a string quartet which won 2nd place at the Fischoff International Competition, the largest chamber competition in the world. He is also a two-time YoungArts Foundation Winner (2016 and 2017) and participated in the YoungArts regional program in New York last April. The YoungArts program is an interdisciplinary immersion of all arts showcasing the top 3% of young artists around the country.

This past fall, Kim served as concertmaster for the Julliard Pre-College Orchestra at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

“We played works by Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Mahler, and Berlioz,” said Kim. “I felt a lot of pressure as a newcomer and concertmaster, but I had a lot of support, including from the Regis faculty. Mr. Gallagher ’08, Ms. Papp, Ms. Basile, Fr. Bender ’67, Dr. Carew, Ms. McNamara, and Mr. MacDonnell P’16’20 all attended and showed their support, which was great.”

While at Regis, Kim says he has developed a better understanding of the importance of using talents for the benefit of others.

“Regis has reinforced in me the idea that there are much bigger things in life than just what I want to do. The significance of community in the human experience was something I didn’t fully understand before Regis. I think there is an obligation to collaborate with others and to achieve or make something bigger than one’s own potential or talent. Regis has helped me become a more mature, social being, and has definitely fostered the idea of channeling my talents towards service.”

Kim is spending his third trimester Christian Service hours serving as a teacher’s assistant in the second grade class of St. Ann’s School in East Harlem. After graduation this June, he suspects that music will continue to play a vital role in his life, including next year when he begins his college studies at Harvard. While there, he hopes to join the Harvard Radcliff Orchestra, alongside various chamber groups.

“My Regis education has underscored the joy in living as a Man for Others. Regis has helped me better appreciate the necessity of charity, and the personal fulfillment derived from helping those in need.”

Posted: 5/15/17