Han Keum sat at a black upright piano and punctiliously positioned his fingers on the keys. The Anchorage eighth grader wore all black clothes identical to he would if performing a live performance. Then, within the classroom at Northern Lights ABC Faculty, he started taking part in Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne Quantity 9.
Keum and his household got here to Alaska from South Korea in 2014. His father, Received, is the pastor of a church the place Keum performs piano alongside his mom, and his oldest brother performs the drums. With instruction from his mom and encouragement from his father, Keum has turn into one of the vital gifted younger musicians in Anchorage.
However he virtually gave up on music earlier than he found his love for violin as a part of his college orchestra class.
“My mother is the one who taught me piano,” Keum stated. “Generally I play the violin, my mother performs the piano, she accompanies me after I play the violin so I feel that’s like, actually simply on the whole, enjoyable.”
In sixth grade, Keum needed to affix the orchestra class, however that meant selecting a brand new instrument — one with strings. A member of his church gave him a violin and he started studying to play, principally by himself.
Northern Lights ABC Faculty Orchestra trainer Katie Eakes noticed Keum’s expertise early on, however couldn’t hear him play in particular person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With no orchestra to rehearse with, Keum bowed the strings of the violin for Eakes over a Zoom name.
“He’s gone from being a newbie to being high of the road for his age and his age group, and in comparison with his friends he’s actually form of taking pictures for the celebrities,” Eakes stated.
Keum stated he virtually gave up on music. In fifth grade, he tried to study his father’s favourite tune on the piano — Chopin’s Revolutionary etude — however was unable to grasp the difficult piece of music. He stopped taking part in piano briefly. It was too tense. However he stated his trainer, Katie Eakes, helped him rediscover why he performed within the first place.
“Mrs. Eakes actually taught me how like enjoyable it was to simply be concerned in music on the whole,” he stated. “So simply total Mrs. Eakes has taught me the way to have enjoyable with music, so I feel that’s what introduced me again to the piano as properly.”
In 2022, Keum attended the Anchorage Chamber Music Competition summer time intensive, an eight-day occasion for musicians from center college to their mid-20s. Keum solely deliberate to play his violin, however he stunned his friends and competitors judges when he signed up on piano for the coed competitors.
Zachary Spontak performs within the symphony in Lisbon, Portugal, and serves because the Training Director for the Anchorage Chamber Music Competition. He helped decide the competitors Keum entered final summer time.
Taking a little bit of revenge on the Chopin piece that had eluded him, Spontak stated Keum nailed the Revolutionary Etude throughout the competitors.
“He comes out and performs this amazingly virtuosic, quick, very tough piece of music and we simply didn’t see it coming,” Spontak stated. “It was fairly cool , we didn’t know what to anticipate and we have been simply form of blown away, so it was superior.”
Spontak stated that not solely was Keum the youngest musician entered within the competitors, he was the one one who performed two devices throughout the summer time intensive.
“He actually places within the work, , and I actually respect that, so he will get it finished and naturally he has the good assist from his mom and, properly, each his dad and mom,” Spontak stated. “He actually motivates himself, too, so I feel that he’s on the fitting path.”
Keum will carry out for the final time with the Northern Lights ABC Faculty orchestra Might 10, and has already auditioned for superior orchestra at Service Excessive Faculty, which he’ll attend subsequent fall.
“My targets with music is simply to have the ability to be adequate to make different folks joyful or really feel feelings whereas listening to me play,” Keum stated.
Keum stated he hopes to share his music with others, and to sooner or later educate younger musicians simply as his mom and Eakes taught him.