New Blog Series: What Are PIMF Alumna Up To?

Ria Kang was a day student at PIMF during her first summer there two years ago. She’d been playing violin since age 4, with much of her earliest training online during the pandemic. By the time she arrived at PIMF at age 6, not only was her devotion to her instrument unwavering, she was well along to planning a music-centric future.

“First major! First major!” she insisted when her mother, Nicole Kim, was explaining at that time that she wasn’t sure where music might take her precocious violinist. Apparently, by first grade, Ria had already decided on majoring exclusively in music in college – even as her parents mildly suggested she might want to study music alongside something else. As far as Ria was already concerned, music would be the FIRST major, and any other subject had already been relegated to a distant second.

In the two years since, Ria’s parents have determined resistance is futile.

Ria has continued her study at PIMF, including the unique Winter Break Solo Intensive Mini-Camp for strings in Florida, and even won her division in a PIMF Concerto Competition, to earn a performance award at the subsequent worldwide livestream of PIMF’s Winner’s Circle Concert.

Ria was accepted into the Pre-College Program at Juilliard in the fall of 2023 at the age of 7, and shifted from local public school to an online educational program to permit for more training and competition flexibility. She juggles her schoolwork with at least 3 hours of daily practice with her mom.

Not to mention burnishing her social media credentials by hosting a YouTube video about the violin with all the aplomb of a seasoned network news anchor!

In April, Ria took part in her first overseas competition: the Arthur Grumiaux International Violin Competition in Brussels, Belgium, where she triumphed over a field of 16 to take top honors in the Under Age 11 category.

“Ria mentioned that she got both nervous and excited (‘nervouscited’) when she got on stage to perform,” her dad, Justin Kang, relates, “But she remembered to take her time to focus and get into the zone before starting to play so that she could enjoy the stage and share her music with the audience.  Ria also mentioned that she felt a little disappointed after every performance as she felt that there were things that she could have done better in hindsight.”

Clearly, she did enough things right! And for that, Justin credits his young daughter’s already vast experience.

“Even though it made her a little nervous, Ria loved performing live in front of an audience, especially with the orchestra, and said that she wishes she could perform every day,“ says Justin. “The many opportunities Ria had to perform on stage at Juilliard, music festivals such as PIMF, and other competitions were very helpful in getting Ria performance-ready for Grumiaux.  The Solo Preparation Program at PIMF definitely helped Ria’s development with its frequent opportunities to work with a pianist and perform on stage.”

The week Ria returned from Belgium she was in the spotlight again, performing at The David H. Koch Theater at The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as a featured musical artist for the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) 25th Anniversary Gala.

While prepping for her Juilliard Pre-College year-end performances and upcoming jury week, Ria managed to squeeze in a New York City TV interview arranged by PIMF. Watch it here, and watch this space for more updates on your PIMF pals.