Kristal Kim enjoys a multi-faceted career as a pianist, composer/arranger, pedagogue, and scholar. An award-winning pianist, she has appeared internationally as a soloist and collaborative artist through concert series of renowned music organizations such as Amalfi Music Festival, Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Prague International Piano Festival, and Ibla Grand Prize International Piano Competition, where she became the laureate of Most Distinguished Musician Award in 2010. Her continuously expanding discography (available on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Amazon) includes selected works of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Ravel, et al along with her original compositions, with several new releases pending in the near future. She continues to engage in various performances throughout the Bay Area, her most recent appearances including collaborations with South Valley Symphony (2021) and Nova Vista Symphony (2018) as the featured pianist.
As a composer, Dr. Kim's output includes original and arranged compositions for solo piano, solo voice, and chamber and choral ensembles. With special emphasis on sacred music, her compositions have been performed in numerous congregations throughout the United States and South Korea. 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 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 pedagogic articles have been published in California Music Teachers, featuring her survey of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons. Kristal Kim's students have earned honors, awards, and scholarships in various performing programs and competitions, and many continue in diverse paths of musical career.
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 the 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 performed in many different venues, as a soloist and collaborative artist. As the winner of the Annual Concerto Competition successively in the years 1995 and 1996, she performed with the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra.
For her undergrad studies, Kristal Kim attended UCLA, where she originally intended to study pre-med. After two years, however, she reaffirmed her passion for music and started studying privately with Mr. Walter Ponce, during which she also studied piano pedagogy and took extensive music education courses under Dr. Frank Heuser. She continued to pursue her master's degree at the SF Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of Mr. Mack McCray and Dr. Sharon Mann, attaining Master of Music degree in 2003. After years of experience as a pianist and instructor in many noteworthy musical institutions in the Bay Area, including the American Conservatory of Theatre and the San Francisco Boys Choirs, Kristal Kim pursued the doctorate degree at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. Under the guidance of Mr. Eugene Pridonoff and Mrs. Elizabeth Pridonoff, Kristal Kim attained the degree Doctor of Musical Arts in 2012, with the 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. 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.
Kristal Kim currently teaches at Ohlone College in Fremont and in her private music studio in San Jose. She believes that music is a powerful testimony of and from the Divine, intended to influence, impact, and inspire people towards Eternity and she strives to share the gift in her daily calling as a musician and teacher.