Austin Kwoun to make Carnegie Hall debut
Posted 03/06/2014 12:00AM
If you've ever watched Austin Kwoun play the violin, and admired his focus and confidence, you may not have realized that he gets very nervous when performing in front of a crowd. But Austin has "pretty bad stage fright," he concedes with a rueful smile, and "the bigger the audience, the worse it gets.""
Austin, who will be performing this Friday, March 7, as the Conductor's Choice soloist with the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra, and on April 20 at Carnegie Hall, has learned how to deal with his fear. "I watch my fingers," he says. The habit calms him "until I look up and see all of the people watching me and I get nervous all over again."
His Carnegie Hall debut, at which he will play the third movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, is the result of his being named the second place winner in the American Protégé International Romantic Music Competition. Last summer Austin attended the Foulger International Music Festival, where he was chosen to participate in a master class with Joseph Lin of the Julliard String Quartet and to perform at Lincoln Center. He is a member of the Boston Youth Music Charity group and has performed in various local venues to raise money for UNICEF and the non-profit organization Cradles and Crayons. As part of a group of Fenn students who auditioned successfully for the Junior District Band, Austin was accepted as assistant concertmaster in the Band Festival on March 28 and 29; he will be second chair, first violin.
Fourteen-year-old Austin, who plays with the Fenn String Ensemble and is a member with the Youth Symphony Orchestra at the New England Conservatory of Music, practices at least an hour a day and three times that on weekends. A pianist since the age of five, Austin was listening to violin concertos when he was about eight and decided to move to that instrument. He says his Conservatory teacher of five years, Ms. Jin Kyung Joen, believes that the sound a violin makes is the closest of any instrument to the human voice, a comparison with which her pupil agrees. "I love hearing that," he says.
Austin's sister is a cellist, his mom is a pianist who majored in music and then became an anesthesiologist, and his dad is a vascular surgeon. When he is not practicing or doing schoolwork—he is a High Honors student—Austin is an avid baseball player and fan, and he loves to read and write. He recently finished award winning author Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.
As he waits expectantly for news from the secondary schools to which he has applied, Austin continues to enjoy being a Fenn student and says he will "miss my friends and the way I feel so comfortable with everyone here."
Austin will be playing all three movements of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto at the Winter Concert of the Lowell Philharmonic on Friday, March 7. The concert will be held at the Pawtucket Congregational Church in Lowell at 8 p.m. and the suggested donation is $10 per person.