Musicians of SIS: Alix Kim

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Taking a deep breath, Alix Kim (10) pushes her breath against the mouthpiece strongly, pressing down with both lips to create the right embouchure, the shape of your lips and mouth with the reed. She closes her eyes and sinks into the mood. Everything else slips away as she starts doing what she does best: playing the oboe.

“The oboe gives me a chance to simply focus on the music and myself to express myself in anyway I want to,” Alix explains. “It has filled my life with a greater, indescribable passion for music. When I play the oboe, I don’t have to care about grades, tests, or SATs—I can just focus on the music.”

The start of her musical journey was in fifth grade, when students were given a choice between choir, band, and strings. The choice was not a hard one for Alix, who was already entranced by the beautiful tone of the oboe when she played the piano accompaniment for an upperclassman oboist. Ever since then, she has tried to find time to practice at least an hour everyday, although before competitions she intensely practices three to five hours a day.

However, the path to her recent successes was not a smooth road, especially at the Interlochen Arts Camp that she attended in the summer of 2014. The Interlochen Arts Camp is a six-week intensive orchestral program during which students participate in master classes, make reeds, and play in quintets and professional orchestras where they rehearse for nearly four hours everyday.

“I was really happy and honored to be accepted with a scholarship,” Alix recalls. “I was the youngest oboist in the pool, one of the 13 picked from an applicant pool of around 80. But I really struggled at the camp because I had to compete with other very talented oboists to earn a good seating in an orchestra. We had a concert every week which required a lot of practice to keep up with learning all the new pieces—music that were high in skill level as well.”

She began in the assistant first or second chair, but by the last two weeks, she was able to climb her way up to the principal oboe position of the Interlochen Philharmonic, one of the orchestras at the camp. Recounting her experience, Alix credits her passionate peers for both teaching her skills and inspiring her to practice harder.

Recently on Oct. 10, Alix attended the Manhattan International Music Competition in the 11-12th grade division and was awarded first place. She practiced the piece “J.W.Kalliwoda Concertino” for over a month.

Returning from her camp with elevated skills and deepened love for music, Alix polished the piece “J.W. Kalliwoda Concertino” for over a month in preparation for the Manhattan International Music Competition, where she won first place in the 11-12th grade division. Following her achievement in October, Alix is now looking to prepare for her own solo concert around January or February with over 100 audience members. She is excited to take charge of everything: conducting the choice of repertoire, practicing, making the tickets and posters, and taking care of the concert hall rent.

“Unlike school where I am motivated by the idea of grades, executive positions, and other cliché factors that help you ‘get ahead in life,’ the main inspiration behind music isn’t based on becoming the best or to beat everyone. Rather [the motive] is simply to make music that not only makes me happy but also those around me happy. Music has allowed me to experience a different kind of passion that I now cannot imagine living without.”