Wonkak Kim puts wow power into enhake
FSU quartet takes its name from the Seminole word for sound
Written by Andrea Personett
SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT
He was 15 years old when he began playing the clarinet. Today, at 25, Wonkak Kim has two Carnegie Hall appearances under his belt and has worked with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma.
The award-winning Tallahassee-based musician has dazzled audiences all over the world, garnering high praise. “Sultry, stylized melodies ... impressive range,” The New York Concert Review enthused. “Vibrant enthusiasm; thoughtful artistic ideas,” said FSU alum and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. “Virtuosic and stirring,” the Swiss publication Journal de Morges opined.
A native of Korea, Won admits he took up clarinet a bit late, “because my mom wanted me to. But, I’ve worked very hard and caught up fast.” That’s an understatement. He has quickly established himself at the forefront of his generation by playing with astounding precision and power. A featured soloist with more than a dozen orchestras, Won has appeared at the Kennedy Center, Constitution Hall and the German Embassy in Washington D.C. He appeared in PBS’s Classical Music and Paintings in South Korea and each year assists the Tallahassee Ballet Company with An Evening of Music and Dance. Won holds dual degrees in mathematics and music from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill and is completing his doctoral degree at FSU. When he’s away from the concert stage, Won collects antiquarian books.
Exuberant contemporary sound
Won is also a founding member of enhake. There’s nothing ordinary about this classical chamber ensemble. The name (pronounced in-HA-kee) is the Seminole (Creek) word for “sound” — and it pays subtle homage to the group’s collective alma mater, FSU. Won, M. Brent Williams (violin), Eun-Hee Park (piano) and Jayoung Kim (cello) share a unique approach to music — sensitive, politically conscious and emotionally broad. That approach allows them to per- form pieces from bygone classical eras — although not a lot was written for their distinctive instrumentation — as well as captivating contemporary works.
“We focus on modern compositions and work exclusively with composers who write for our unusual instrumentation,” explains Won. With grants and prize money from competitions, the group has commissioned several of America’s on-the-rise composers to create new works for them.
“There is so little literature available” for this wonderfully balanced ensemble, Won says. Within a year of forming in 2007, enhake played Carnegie Hall for the first time (the four musicians went back for a second Carnegie Hall appearance May 3). “They were absolutely stunning,” said one reviewer. “enhake exhibited confidence, artistry and poise from the moment they walked on stage to the last note of the performance. Their sense of exuberance ... was felt by every member of the audience.”
While the ensemble has performed in many countries and collected many impressive international awards, the four members also give back to its home community as artists-in- residence for the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra.
Recordings by enhake are set to be released through Emeritus and Centaur Records in the coming year, with a Naxos classical label CD due out in 2012. Won will perform a solo recital Sept. 17 at FSU before embarking on a tour of England, Belgium and France in December.
Between those solo concert dates, Won will join the rest of enhake at the Pan Music Festival on Oct. 28 at the Seoul Arts Center (Korea’s Carnegie Hall). The quartet will perform the works of living Korean and American composers.“It’s what we like to do best,” Won says.
Find out more about enhake at www.enhake.com, and learn more about the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra at www.tallahasseeyouthorchestras.com.
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