The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Dancer-cellist couple Jonah Kim and Julia Rowe grace Harker Concert Series

Tiffany Zhu
Moni Simeonov on the violin and Jonah Kim on the cello play “Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7″ together in the Patil theater on Friday. Their performance was in “Songs that Make Us Dance,” a Harker Concert Series production.

The audience settles in hushed anticipation as cellist Jonah Kim draws his bow across the strings, conjuring the first note. Wearing a gray leotard and a wispy skirt, dancer Julia Rowe whirls onto the stage, mirroring the tumultuous storm resonating in the cello’s crescendo. Kim and Rowe are partners, in marriage and in art.

Grammy-winning cellist Jonah Kim and San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Julia Rowe performed for the Harker Concert Series in the Patil Theater on Nov. 3 after teaching a masterclass to students earlier that afternoon. 

A South Korean native, Kim received an invitation to the Juilliard pre-college program at just seven years old. Since his debut in 2002 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he has soloed among prestigious ensembles, from the National Symphony to the Atlantic Classical Orchestra. Kim synthesizes Italian, German, Russian and Hungarian classical genres into his own distinct school of cello. 

Rowe’s journey in classical ballet commenced in Pennsylvania. After moving to California, she  joined the San Francisco Ballet Company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2013 and received a promotion to be a soloist in 2016. She participated in numerous classical and contemporary ballet productions like Romeo & Juliet and Swan Lake

Upper school instrumental music teacher Jaco Wong invited Kim and Rowe to Harker after meeting Kim at a recording studio. 

Dancer Julia Rowe in a feathery swan costume dances in relevé during her performance of “The Dying Swan” in the Patil Theater on Friday. Kim and Cheli played “Le Cygne” as the music. (Tiffany Zhu)

“I knew that they would have a huge impact on our orchestra program.” Wong said. “They also showed how to collaborate between different disciplines and how successful that can be. They showed our students that if they work with people who have different talents than them, that they can create something really beautiful together.”

Kim and Rowe’s concert, “Songs that Make Us Dance,” featured pianist Dominic Cheli and violinist Moni Simeonov. The concert opened at 7 p.m. with Kim and Cheli playing “Viola da Gamba Sonata No. 1 in G Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach. 

Next, Simeonov joined Kim for “Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7” by Zoltán Kodály. Cheli then returned to the stage to play alongside Kim’s “Dancing in the Eye of the Storm.” Soon, Rowe made her debut appearance of the night, performing the interpretive ballet she practiced during the masterclass. 

“[Kim’s] very familiar with this piece, so he has lots of ideas and visuals that go with the music,” Rowe said. “He is telling me his ideas and I’m translating it into movement that I know as a classically trained ballet dancer. Someone who is trained in salsa, for example, might come up with something very different. I am translating this with my experiences.”

After an intermission, Kim and Rowe performed “The Dying Swan” by Mikhail Fokine to Kim’s “Le Cygne” by Camille Saint-Saëns. Kim, Cheli and Simeonov concluded the concert with “Piano Tri No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67” by Dmitri Shostakovich. 

Throughout the concert, Kim’s vivid facial expressions reflected the intensity of his music, capturing an array of emotions from playfulness to panic and dismay. 

“I loved hearing the folk melodies they played because I haven’t really been exposed to that before,” concert audience member Mindy Truong (10) said. “The music and the dance went well together, and Julia Rowe danced beautifully. There was also so much emotion in Kim’s facial expressions and so much clarity in his music.”

We can go beyond just the borders. We can explore ways that we already overlap. The only difference is how we do the same things. With art, if it’s together, it’s right

— Cellist Jonah Kim

Around 70 students attended the masterclass earlier that afternoon at 3:10 p.m. on Nov. 3 in the Patil Theater. Wong first interviewed Kim and Rowe who shared insights about their disciplines and offered advice to student musicians.

“One piece of advice during the masterclass that stood out to me was to practice and also practice the right way, which was something I could work on,” attendee Sylvia Zhang (9) said. “What they said about togetherness was really impactful too.”

The duo then rehearsed their original choreography and composition “Dancing in the Eye of the Storm.” While practicing their piece, Kim and Rowe took audience feedback. They concluded the masterclass by addressing students’ questions. 

Kim and Rowe strive to remind audiences that art flourishes in collaboration across cultures and disciplines.

“My teachers, growing up, always talked about how great art is made on the borders of cultures, where cultures meet and clash and fuse, yielding incredible results,” Kim said. “But I think moving forward, we can go beyond just the borders. We can explore ways that we already overlap. The only difference is how we do the same things. With art, if it’s together, it’s right.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Jeremy Peng, Reporter
Jeremy Peng (11) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is his second year on staff. This year, Jeremy wants to refine his understanding of journalistic writing and explore elements of journalism beyond the written word. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music and reading 19th and 20th-century novels.
Tiffany Zhu, Reporter
Tiffany Zhu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Tiffany hopes to meet more members of the Harker and journalism community and share topics she's passionate about with them. In her free time, she enjoys baking and watching all genres of movies.

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *