When pianist Edwin Kim recently posted on Facebook about his upcoming tour of the west coast, he described himself as a “wannabe Canadian.”
Years of playing for supportive audiences at the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) Festival must have rubbed off on the Korean-born, Baltimore-based musician, who will return to Powell River on Friday, April 12, for a fundraising concert at Max Cameron Theatre with maestro Arthur Arnold.
“When I think of PRISMA and Powell River it’s very endearing,” said Kim. “I’m just so welcomed there and there are so many good memories that make me comfortable and feel more vulnerable to open up, more so than other places.”
As a performer, Kim has had a busy year with recitals in Poland and Korea, the well-deserved ripple effect of a 2017 win at the Australian International Chopin Piano Competition. Immediately following his spring concerts in Vancouver, Powell River and Comox, Kim will fly to Spain to compete in the Vigo International Piano Competition where Martha Argerich serves as head of the jury.
“She has been my idol since I was a little kid,” said Kim. “When everybody else was following Justin Timberlake I was literally idolizing Martha Argerich the whole time.”
On account of Kim being in full-on competition mode, Powell River audiences are in for a larger-than-normal glimpse into his virtuosity and emotional command of the piano.
“I somehow ended up programming some of the world’s most difficult pieces,” he said. “A lot of show-off pieces.”
Through his programming choices, Kim aims to take listeners on a dynamic journey, offsetting the devilish flamboyance of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz and Brahms’ Paganini Variations with a more soothing respite, such as Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor.
“Bach, for me, is always like a meditation, a cleansing experience, which you kind of need after the Mephisto Waltz,” said Kim.
Joining him on stage will be PRISMA’s co-founder and music director Arthur Arnold, who recently returned from Spokane, Washington, after competing among four other candidates to fill a vacancy on the maestro’s podium. The successful candidate will be revealed later this year.
“I feel really good about it,” said Arnold. “We’ll have to see what happens.”
It has become something of a tradition for Arnold and Kim to collaborate at PRISMA’s spring concerts, which have taken on a variety of different formats over the years.
“It’s always fun to see a maestro actually making music on an instrument,” said Kim. “As a conductor, there is only so much he can do with tone or emotional effect in the performance itself, because the result can change depending on which musicians he has in the orchestra. But when he makes music that’s him bringing out all of the things that he hears, you get to learn more about him.”
“It’s very physical, the cello,” said Arnold. “Almost like kayaking; with two hands you can propel your own music.”
Arnold and Kim’s April 12 performance will begin at 7 pm, preceded by a silent auction in the Max Cameron Theatre lobby.
“We’ve had some amazing, generous donations from businesses and individuals in the community for this silent auction,” said Arnold. “We are so grateful to them, and to Powell River for supporting the magic of PRISMA for seven years.”
General admission tickets for the spring concert are $27.25, available at the PRISMA office across from Subway in Town Centre Mall, and online at prismafestival.com/tickets.
Ticket and pass sales are also underway for the summer festival, which runs from June 17 to 29. For more information, call 1.855.5PRISMA or visit the website for a full list of concerts and locations.