Humans of the MET: Miran Kim

by Katherine Anderson, violist

Katherine Anderson: What were you doing before you started playing in the MET Orchestra?

Miran Kim: I played with the Houston Symphony for one season. Before that, I was working on my Master’s degree at Rice University.  

KA: What is it like to be in New York?

MK: Actually, for me it means coming home! I grew up in the city and my family still lives here. I moved away when my sister, Minna, was 10, so we have a lot of catching up to do. She's going to college in the fall, so it's been wonderful to have this time to spend together, especially since we're very close. It's also great to be back because I get to experience New York City with a new perspective. Now that I'm older and no longer a student, I'm discovering things about the city that I never paid attention to before. A lot has changed since I moved away, and I love that I get to figure out my favorite places all over again.

KA: Older? How old are you, if you don't mind my asking?!

MK: 25.

KA: Wow, you could be my daughter! So what are some of the things you've discovered?

MK: When I have a night off, I've loved going to hear other groups perform. A big highlight for me was when the Berlin Philharmonic came to play last fall...I attended two of their concerts. I had only really experienced them through their Digital Concert Hall, so hearing them live was such a treat!

KA: Do you miss Houston?

MK: I do...Somehow, a lot of my close friends ended up there at the same time, so I was lucky enough to be a part of this very supportive community for a few years. My boyfriend still lives there as well. He's a freelance-violist-turned-baker. 

KA: What are some of your favorite things that he bakes?

MK: Bread! He's super passionate about bread...He just really loves to cook. In fact, on his first trip to New York, he came to visit my family at Thanksgiving and he cooked the whole meal...needless to say, that made an impression! 

KA: How does it feel to play in an opera orchestra, compared to playing in a symphony orchestra?

MK: One of the things I love about playing in the MET Orchestra is that we're only one small piece of a big production. In the grand scheme of things, we're just one component. The spotlight is rarely on us. At the end of the day, we're just one huge team coming together to pull off each production. What you see and hear on stage is the end result, but it's really such a small piece of everything that happens at the Met!

KA: Was there anything that shocked you when you first started working at the Met?

MK: The thing that shocked me the most was the endurance and stamina that everyone has. I barely had any opera experience going into the job, so playing a six-hour Meistersinger was definitely a new experience!

The sheer quantity of music we go through is astounding. And we just keep adding to it for so many months. I've found that by the time I start feeling comfortable with one opera, it’s time to move on to the next one!

The other thing that shocked me was that everyone knew Bohème by heart! 

KA: Are your parents musicians?

MK: No, I'm the only musician in my family. My Mom has always been a music-lover, but never studied it herself. She works as a dress maker, so she loves coming to the Met for the costumes.  My Dad came to the Met for the first time after I joined the orchestra. He came to see La Bohème - a great gateway into opera! - and I think he was amazed by the sheer size of the production. He couldn't believe how many people were on stage in the second act! 

KA: Have you ever thought of doing something besides playing the violin?

MK: After my freshman year of college, I seriously considered quitting. I had played the violin for so long, I hadn't thought of doing anything else. I needed a change of scenery, so I transferred schools and went to the Cleveland Institute of Music, where I was involved in some great chamber music. My time there really helped me fall back in love with music.

After that, I began my Master's degree at Rice. I ended up winning a position in the Houston Symphony during my first year in school. So I ended up putting my degree on hold and starting my first job. I consider my time with the Houston Symphony to be very valuable. It taught me how to learn music quickly, which has helped so much! It forced me to learn on my feet and I learned what it's like to be in a professional setting The experience also taught me what it takes to be good important the interpersonal things are. 

KA: What do you do in your free time?

MK: Mostly, I've been spending a lot of time catching up with my family. But for the first time in a very long time, I've been reading for fun!

KA: Do you have any favorite books?

MK: Well, I just finished Gone Girl, which was a page-turner!  I also downloaded a couple of opera guides, so that I can better understand the characters and plots. I find it to be really helpful to know what's actually happening on stage. 

KA: Miran, it's been wonderful talking to you, and I can say from my year with you that you really do know how to be a great co-worker! Welcome to our MET Orchestra family!