Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, who has played Bruch’s First Violin Concerto as soloist many times, has his own routine to prepare for a performance with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Max Bruch’s first violin concerto, written in 1866, revised a year later, is a joyful, accessible piece, says violinist David Kim. He says it’s also one in which each movement is progressively more demanding for the soloist."You have to gird yourself and prepare to maintain and increase your energy level as you go."
"He opens the concerto with the lowest note on the violin—an open G string ... that's the beginning of the journey."
It's a journey for which Kim prepares weeks, if not months, in advance. "For me, It’s holistic; I’m trying to design my entire eating schedule, sleeping schedule, exercise. Mentally, I’m doing a lot of pre-concert visualization … I’m trying to visualize every part of the day, literally how it's going to feel driving in and parking underneath the Kimmel Center and slowly walking up the stairwell to my dressing room."
And when that day arrives, Kim gets to the hall early to do "some super slow practicing in my dressing room. Just kind of really slow-motion preparation."
All that preparation builds up to the performance, when Bruch’s first violin concerto comes alive with moments both intimate and grand.
"In the last movement, there are a couple of places that are quite symphonic where I'll cut out and then just enjoy the orchestra playing. And then I'll come in and do my big solo thing."
As to the months of focused mental and physical preparation for that day, Kim says, "It sounds neurotic, but it does take some neurosis to get yourself to do something as scary as playing a violin concerto with one of the great orchestras in the history of Western music!"