Artist Spotlight – Klara Min

Klara Min
Klara Min is a classical pianist who has gained rave reviews for her stylised and considered way of playing the piano. Critic Stephen Estep exclaimed that she had a ‘ravishing piano tone’. Klara, born and raised in Korea has performed throughout the world at many prestigious venues and now comes to London for her debut performance at Wigmore Hall on the 23rd of April.

Resident in New York she is founder and artistic director of the New York Concert Artists & Associates which sees itself as a ‘spiritual fraternity of creative minds’. It helps artists collaborate and help each other in promoting themselves. She recently released an album of Chopin Masurkas. In light of her upcoming show, we wanted to find out more about this acclaimed musician.

Mimi: Could you tell us about your background and how you became a classical pianist?

KM: My mother is a composer and she taught many piano students at home so I became familiar with the sound of piano when I was very little. I remember enjoying the beautiful sound, and I was amazed that my fingers could make music. As a child, I always liked singing and I think I tried searching for my own way of singing on piano, too. Since then my dream was to become a pianist who performs all around the world.

Mimi: You’ve won countless competitions and have been recognized for your excellent techniques, have you felt any pressure when performing?

KM: Yes. I think there are two different kinds of pressure. One is necessary pressure and that is from music itself. You long to express music in its utmost level, but no artist is ever satisfied fully with her performance. Personally I find this pressure always helpful for me to focus better on music while I am on stage. The other kind of pressure is the expectation from the audience – a performer always wants to meet the expectations of their audience as a communicator, but one cannot think about this too much on stage.

Mimi: You’ve performed at Carnegie Hall and other big venues, which has been your most performances?

KM: I really enjoy performing anywhere for audiences who appreciate music. Each time I perform, I can feel the level of their attention and their sincerity. I particularly like performing in Germany and in Europe in general. I look forward to playing in London for the first time this year.

Mimi: How do you feel when you see great reviews of your performances?

KM: Lucky, although, I don’t rely on reviews too much because it sometimes affects my ability to be self-critical. When I have a good review, I feel more pressure for future performances.
If I get a bad review, I’ll try to forget it as soon as possible. What matters to me is that I keep going no matter what.

Mimi: Do you have any favourite pieces that you love to perform?

KM: There are so many pieces I love from so many composers. But I feel closest to Schumann, Chopin, J.S. Bach, Beethoven and Scriabin particularly.

Mimi: Some critics have stated that in classical music, Asian composers are overlooked, in your album Pa-mun: Ripples on Water you brought a spotlight on Korean composers. Was this something important to you to do with your album? Also what was your process when making this album?

KM: Yes, I think there are so many wonderful Korean composers who haven’t yet had an international spotlight. I wanted to bring out some of their works to attention. As a Korean myself, I feel obliged to promote our own country’s composers. I would like to encourage Korean composers to write more piano music so that many pianists can perform their music.

Mimi: You launched the New York Concert Artists & Associates (NYCA) in 2008 focusing on collaboration between artists. How do you balance being a musician alongside running this organization?

KM: What I do is in the same scheme as what I want to become as a pianist. It is about communication. I love to share my thoughts with my fellow musicians and grow together in music. Music is about communication and it is important for me to get to know my colleagues and talk to other musicians about their struggles, musical interests, innovative and creative thinking in music. In a big picture, it helps me grow to be a well- rounded musician.

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Mimi: Also NYCA works on promoting artists through partnerships etc. Do you feel nowadays that musicians have to take a more active and varied approach in the way they market themselves?

KM: Absolutely. I appreciate musicians who are eager to communicate. First through music, but in order to make that happen, musicians must find their unique way of communicating with general public. After all, to make one’s career, it takes team- work between managers, publicists and musicians all together. You cannot lock yourself in the practice room and wait for people to reach out to you. If you want to be heard, you first have to find a way for people to have interest in hearing you. But then, without a substantial content, all marketing will be in vain.

Mimi: You’ve already accomplished so much during your career, is there anything you want to still accomplish?

KM: One’s career does not always go with one’s musicianship. Regardless of your achievement, I believe that a true musician always remains curious and eager to learn because arts are like a universe that doesn’t have a limit.
I feel that I still have a long, long road ahead of me and I am very happy about that.

Mimi: You will be performing at Wigmore Hall on the 23rd of April. Could you tell us about the program of the show?

KM: The program consists of Schumann’s Arabeske, Op. 18, Fantasiestuecke Op. 12, three mazurkas by Chopin, as well as his Sonata in B minor and the UK premiere of Cursive by a living American composer, Sean Hickey. These are all my favorite works. I care much about acoustic when I choose a program and I think that Wigmore Hall has a beautiful acoustic. I look forward to performing there.

Mimi: This is your London Debut at a prestigious venue, what are your thoughts on playing in London?

KM: I fell in love with London the first time I visited. I think that Londoners are very kind and sincere people and most of all; they appreciate classical music, so I am thrilled to meet the London audience. I hope we can share the beauty of music together in empathy.

Mimi: Do you have a message for UK fans of your music?

KM: I can’t wait to meet you. My heartfelt appreciation to you!

Check out some of Klara’s performances below:

Chopin Promo:

Schumann Kreisleriana Op. 16

Chopin Concerto in E minor, Op. 11 2nd movement:

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