Somi Kim, born in South Korea, Somi began her piano studies at the age of 8, and moved to New Zealand in 1997. After gaining the highest mark in New Zealand for her Trinity Grade 7 Piano Exam in 2000, she continued her tuition in piano with Val Hungerford until the start of her university years.
During her time at Westlake Girls High School where she was Head Music Prefect, she was a member of the award-winning choir ‘Key Cygnetures’. She was the leader of this choir for two consecutive years, gaining her ABRSM Diploma in Advanced Singing. Somi has sung at various European venues, also participating in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, and the World Choral Symposium in 2008 held in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Somi has participated in various chamber groups over the years, reaching the national finals of the Secondary Schools in Chamber Music Competition in 2005, and in 2006 her piano trio ‘Farr from Russia’ was placed first in the competition. She has been a finalist in the Auckland Chamber Music Society Competition every year since 2009 in various ensembles, with her unique eight hands, two pianos ensemble ‘Estrella Quartet’ being awarded first place this year. They have played for international pianists Read Gainsford and David Lively in masterclasses both within and outside the University, including the New Zealand International Piano Festival. In 2011 they presented a complete eight hands concert as part of the University of Auckland, School of Music Emerging Artists series. Performing New Zealand music was a feature of this concert and Leonie Holmes’ A Tedious Brief Scene: Bottoms Dance, a piece she specially rearranged for the group, was premiered. New Zealand composer David Hamilton has also written three works dedicated to this group. The Quartet is the recipient of the University of Auckland Carl and Alberta Rosenfeldt Prize in Chamber Music for 2011 and 2012, and the 2011 Auckland Chamber Music Society Competition Scholarship. Their performances have been recorded by Radio NZ Concert and broadcast on Asia Downunder (TVNZ).
Estrella were the winners of the 6th Pettman/ROSL ARTS International Scholarship for a New Zealand Chamber Ensemble. As a result, Somi has recently toured various parts of the UK over six weeks giving concerts at prestigious venues in England, Wales and Scotland, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She attended the Dartington International Summer School, also receiving lessons from leading teachers at the Guildhall School of Music and Royal College of Music in London.
Aside from chamber music, Somi is active in the field of accompanying and collaborative music. She is currently the official accompanist for the choirs at Diocesan School for Girls, Auckland Girls’ Choir, North Shore Cameratas and North Shore Chorale. She has had repetiteuring work with NBR Opera, Opera Factory, Opera Studio and Auckland University Voice Class, where she played for the 2010 Production of Carmina Burana.
Somi was an intern for the New Zealand Opera School held in Wanganui in January of 2012 and next year she will be attending again as an official pianist. She was the 2011 recipient of the Auckland Centennial Music Festival Scholarship and Auckland University’s Bernhardt and Anne Harrison Scholarship for piano. She also received the Margaret Doone Memorial Piano Sonata Scholarship As the winner of IRMT’s 2011 Sonata Competition. She performed Rachmaninov’s Variations in the Theme of Paganini at the Town Hall with the University Orchestra as a finalist in the annual University Graduation Gala Concerto Competition.
The 2012 recipient of the Anne Bellam Scholarship, Auckland Centennial Music Festival Scholarship and Auckland University’s Bernhardt and Anne Harrison Scholarship, Somi has finished her Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours and is continuing her studies with a Masters in Music majoring in Performance Piano with her teacher Rae de Lisle. She received the Encourgaement Award at this year’s Kerikeri International Piano Festival She will be featuring as a soloist with the Manukau Symphony Orchestra at the end of this month for Saint-Saen’s Carnival of the Animals.