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originally published: 30/08/2022

(WAYNE, PA) – Tenafly NJ violinist Ria Kang took top honors in the 13 and under age division with a precocious performance of Philadelphia International Music Festival Concert competition this summer at the historic Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

The 6-year-old dazzled the judges and demonstrated skill and technique beyond her years in the first movement, Allegro, from JS Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, BMW 1041. Walter Stillman Elementary School work study continues.

“I’m still working on the same piece, but now it’s the third part,” Ria explained weeks after winning first place at the prestigious festival. “The second part makes me feel happy when I play it and also a little sad at times because it has these melodic parts that do that. I like the slow parts because I feel the music more.”

With the win, Ria earned a substantial scholarship to PIMF’s 14-day intensive violin course next summer and a showcase on PIMF’s YouTube channel (shown above). She will also take the stage at the annual PIMF Winners’ Circle Concert with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The jury for the PIMF July Concerto Competition consisted of: Kimberly Fisher, Principal Second Violin of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Philadelphia International Music Festival; Priscilla Lee, Associate Cello Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Grammy-nominated pianist Dr. Mark Livshitz.

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Numerous principal musicians and other members of the Philadelphia Orchestra make up the faculty in the PIMF summer program and have been a major draw for the young violinist as well as for students who flock to him from around the world. Ria was one of the youngest musicians to ever participate in the program.

“I don’t often use the word ‘miracle.’ Every young musician who has attended PIMF over the past 25 years has demonstrated an incredible work ethic and dedication,” said PIMF President Sandy Marcucci. “But it’s definitely rare to see the level of skill that Ria has already demonstrated at such a tender age – and her joy in sharing it!”

Ria’s mother, Nicole Kim, said that after spending almost half of her two and a half years studying violin screen playback – her daughter enjoyed the camp’s wide range of performance opportunities. “She started learning the violin right before the pandemic hit,” Ms. Kim said, “and studied for a few months in person, but during the pandemic, she only had online lessons for a year. She resumed attending classes in June last year. It was hard.”

Her mom has already suggested that maybe Ria could double major in college, but Ria is adamant about being a full-time musician: “I’ll never stop!” she said, already setting her sights on Juillard or Curtis.

Philadelphia International Music Festival (PIMF) is a summer music-in-residence program directed by Kimberly Fisher, Principal Second Violin of the Philadelphia Orchestra, offering student musicians from around the world the unique opportunity to spend up to four weeks immersed in music education and performance training with members of the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra.

The PIMF faculty this year included the following members of the Philadelphia Orchestra (among many others): David Kim, concertmaster; Mark Rovetti, Assistant Concertmaster; Kimberly Fisher, lead second violin; Hai-Ye Ni, principal cellist; Priscilla Lee, Associate Principal Cello; Nathaniel West, Acting Assistant Principal Bass; Patrick Williams, Assistant Director of Flute; Ricardo Morales, principal clarinet; Mark Gigliotti, co-principal bassoon; Jeffrey Lang, Assistant Principal Horn; Matthew Vaughan, co-founder of the trombone; and Angela Zator Nelson, associate director of timpani. Boris Alahverdyan, principal clarinet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is also on faculty every summer.

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