Music Major Profile: Andrew Kim ’18

Senior Andrew Kim’s involvement with music on campus doesn’t end with the designation “music major.” Music truly pervades every aspect of his life at Swarthmore. I had witnessed his conductorship in Chorus and Garnet Singers and frequently seen him in the Lang Music Building–often wondering if he ever left Underhill Library–but I did not truly understand the extent of his dedication until I sat down to interview him about his experiences with the Music Program.

Andrew is majoring in music with a concentration in conducting, both choral and instrumental. He has worked with multiple Swarthmore music ensembles, including Chorus, Garnet Singers, Lab Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra. Outside of his experiential work, Andrew studies with Joe Gregorio and Andrew Hauze on fundamental musicianship that supports his conducting.

When asked about his musical background and the origins of his interests, Andrew surprises me with his answer, stating that his interest in music came later in life. He cites a specific memory, singing Mozart’s Requiem towards the end of high school, as the first moving experience he’d had with music. “That moment really captured my interest in music and got me to understand its power,” said Andrew. From there, Andrew began looking into liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore because he felt that in that environment, unlike at a conservatory, he would be able to pursue music in some form. “I thought, I’ll get started and see where it goes.”

Although Andrew’s interest in music was still forming post-high school, he knew he wanted to study conducting specifically. “I found the role of getting everyone together to make music appealing, so I had that vague interest coming into college. I talked to Joe Gregorio and Andrew Hauze and they suggested different paths that I could take from there.” Then, laughing, Andrew said, “I actually came here to study English, so I was going to be a double major for a long time. But I knew music was going to be the interest that I wanted to pursue. I just wasn’t sure what I could do or how I could pursue this since usually people who study music are people who have played for a long time, and I just didn’t have that kind of background. So I had the mindset of, ‘Well, we’ll see what happens.’”

As it turns out, a lot happened. During his time at Swarthmore, Andrew has performed numerous concerts with Swarthmore’s choral and orchestral ensembles. He has been heavily involved in the Lab Orchestra, which was created his junior year as a response to the demand for experience opportunities for student conductors like Andrew. With the Lab Orchestra, he has conducted both on campus and with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This semester, Andrew also won first place in the annual undergraduate choral conducting competition held by the PA chapter of the American Choral Directors’ Association.

Andrew describes his experiences at Swarthmore as invaluable in shaping his musical career. “I think studying music would have been impossible anywhere else because I just wouldn’t have had the preliminary qualifications to go to a music school, so I’m very grateful to have found a place where I could get started. I think being in a small department has been really advantageous for me because I get a ton of time with Andrew and Joe. They really met me where I was, and there’s a flexibility within the department that affords me opportunities like the Lab Orchestra even when it’s not a part of the regular curriculum. And I think the connection that I’ve had with my professors is a unique thing to a liberal arts college. I’ve probably spent more time with Andrew Hauze than some of my closest friends,” he jokes. More seriously, he notes, “I think that’s really special. I’m so grateful for the support, and it’s been a blessing working with so many talented professors and musicians.”

Andrew’s Senior Recital will take place on Friday, December 8 at 8:00 PM in Lang Concert Hall. He will be conducting a group of friends he has musically collaborated with during his time at Swarthmore, in selections of concertos by Schumann, Ibert, Chopin, Shostakovich, and Beethoven. This performance is free and open to the public.

Maya Kikuchi ’20