Student composes organization to popularize classical music

Freshman Kelly Kim practices violin before her freshman orchestra class. She is also a member of Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra and studies at the Music Institute of Chicago. Photo by Maddie Harris

Growing up hearing her sister and grandmother play the violin, freshman Kelly Kim developed a passion for classical music. At 4 years old, she became a violinist herself. Though it would sometimes be difficult to concentrate on details while practicing, Kim learned to set goals by focusing on improving her future performances.

As she became accustomed to playing and listening to classical pieces, Kim became more passionate about the genre. Her dedication to classical music motivated her to share her appreciation with others.

“Through grade school and middle school if I asked people, ‘Have you heard Mozart’s Concerto or Mendelssohn’s Concerto?’, [they would say], ‘No, what is that?’” said Kim. “They’re such good pieces, and it really hurts me that [people] don’t know [them].”

Kim said she perceived a lack of exposure to classical music in her community, which inspired her to create The Classical Connection, an organization that aims to introduce people of various age groups to classical music.

The organization’s first concert was held at the Northbrook Public Library on Sept. 7. She reached out to the library, organized the program and recruited three other performers, all of whom were current and former Maple School students. The Classical Connection raised $250 at the event, and the proceeds were donated to the construction of a new building at the respective students’ school and alma mater.

Freshman Howard Dai said he was asked by Kim to play piano at the concert. He viewed the opportunity as a valuable practice experience for an important cause.

“I’d say almost nobody really listens to classical music besides older people,” said Dai. “It’s . . . underrated because it’s so interesting, and there’s a lot to it, and people just overlook it because it’s boring to them.”

Maple orchestra director Renee Yoo said the students who performed at the concert were invited to a Maple School board meeting where their efforts were commended, and they were awarded certificates.

“It’s really encouraging [for] me, as a teacher, to hear kids really taking music beyond their own little world and giving back,” Yoo said.

Kim hopes to continue giving back to her community by educating people about classical pieces and their history.

  “If [people] learn more about the music and . . . the backstories of the composers, they can start to understand what it’s actually about and be able to contemplate about it and implement it into their own lives,” said Kim. “There are so many composers who suffered and put that in their music, like Shostakovich. He went through World War II and lived in Soviet Russia, so he went through a lot, and he put that in his music.”

Though she doesn’t currently have any events scheduled, Kim said she plans to organize similar concerts at local libraries. She hopes her message will influence more teenagers in the future as they are less likely to be exposed to classical music.

“I personally do enjoy some pop music and it’s great, but classical music is so undervalued for what it’s worth, and people just need to know how great it is and how it could help them understand themselves,” said Kim. “After hearing music, I don’t know how it works, but you could just feel it sometimes with classical music, there are moments in pieces where it just touches you. I feel like it   should really be more loved.”