Dr. Kristal Kim enjoys a multi-faceted career as a pianist, composer/arranger, pedagogue, and scholar. An award-winning pianist, she has performed internationally as a soloist and collaborative artist in diverse concert series of several renown festivals. Her continuously expanding discography (available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, YouTube and others) features timeless works by J. S. Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Ravel et al, as well as works by contemporary composers and herself. She continues to engage in various performances throughout the Bay Area, with a recent appearance in 2021 as the featured soloist performing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the South Valley Symphony. Her recordings of Psalms for Piano by Emma Loud Diemer have been featured in Music in The Time of Change, the 2022 international music conference hosted by International Alliance for Women in Music.
As a composer, Dr. Kim's output includes original and arranged compositions for various solos and ensembles. With special emphasis on sacred music, her compositions have been performed in numerous congregations in the United States, South Korea, and many other parts of the world. Her arrangement style caters to a wide variety of tastes; while adhering to the classical foundation, rhythmic idioms of jazz and pop music mingle with subtle bents of neo-tonality, rendering contemporary ambiance that is accessible yet artistically rewarding to both performers and audiences.
Active in the pedagogic field as well, Dr. Kim is a certified NCTM (Nationally Certified Teacher of Music). She has served on the Board of Directors at Music Teachers' Association of California (Santa Clara Branch) and she continues her contribution as an Evaluator and Section Chair in the Certificate of Merit program. Her ongoing research covers various pedagogic topics of repertoire, history, and practice disciplines among others, and she has published her work through various channels; a recent contribution includes her survey of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons, featured in 2019 issues of California Music Teachers. Dr. Kristal Kim currently teaches at Ohlone College in Fremont and maintains a private music studio in San Jose. Her students have earned honors, awards, and scholarships in various composition and performing programs and competitions, and many continue in diverse paths of musical career (See Studio Highlight).
Born and raised in South Korea, Kristal Kim started music studies at the age of eight with her mother who was a talented singer and pianist. During the first years of her studies, she received fourth place at the National Korean Piano Competition, which served as a starting point for her career as a pianist. After she immigrated to the United States, she continued her study at the preparatory division of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under Ms. Tomoko Hagiwara. She won local competitions and Honorary Scholarships at the Conservatory and built performing experiences as a versatile pianist. As the winner of the Annual Concerto Competition successively in the years 1995 and 1996, she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue respectively with the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra.
For her undergraduate studies, Kristal Kim attended UCLA, where she initially straddled double majors in medicine and music. During the latter years, however, she acknowledged a greater passion for music, graduating with a degree in music education and the Fischer Klein Education Award. Her piano study continued under the tutelage of Mr. Mack McCray and Dr. Sharon Mann in master's degree program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she was recognized with Outstanding Accomplishment Award from the piano department. After years of experience as a pianist and instructor in noteworthy institutions, such as the American Conservatory of Theatre and the San Francisco Boys Choirs, Kristal Kim pursued a doctoral degree in piano performance at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. In 2010, she received the Most Distinguished Musician Award from Ibla International Music Festival for her performance in the contemporary category. She became Doctor of Musical Arts in 2012, with publication of her dissertation Emma Lou Diemer’s Solo Piano, Works Through 2010: A Study of Pedagogy and Performance in the Context of 20th- and 21st-Century Music Making via ProQuest LLC. During these years, she had performed in numerous venues both local and abroad, also appearing in masterclasses given by world-renown artists such as John Perry, Veda Kaplinsky, Boris Berman, Young Hee Moon, and Andrew Cooperstock, among others.
Dr. Kim believes that music is a powerful testimony of and from the Divine, intended to influence, impact, and inspire people towards peace, joy, and growth in Eternity. She strives to share the gift in her daily calling as a musician and teacher.