Concertmaster Dennis Kim

Violinist Dennis Kim has served as concertmaster of six philharmonic orchestras and performed with more than 20 orchestras around the world, but it wasn’t until he performed on a “Star Wars” soundtrack that his kids noticed.

“As soon as I came back from playing ‘Star Wars,’ my kids were like, ‘Oh my gosh, Dad, you’re famous,’ ” says the Irvine husband, father of two, and concertmaster (instrument-playing leader) of the Pacific Symphony.

We recently asked Kim about the symphony’s free show at Mike Ward Community Park this month, his philosophy on music and his 320-year-old violin.

What is your violin?

It’s incredible – a Stradivarius made in 1701. To be able to play this every day, I mean, I don’t even believe it myself.

Were you a child prodigy?

No. I was just a normal kid. I played high school football. I played floor hockey. I joined the juggling club. My goal was to play in the National Hockey League, but my parents (who emigrated to Toronto from Korea) couldn’t afford skates and all that equipment, so I never learned to skate properly.

Describe a memorable performance in your career.

In 2014, I led the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in their London debut. There were 8,000 people in the Royal Albert Hall, and the electricity was incredible.

What do you think about while performing?

I focus on what the conductor wants and what we worked on that week. I’m not worried about making a mistake because of all the preparation I’ve done beforehand.

“As soon as I came back from playing ‘Star Wars,’ my kids were like, ‘Oh my gosh, Dad, you’re famous.’ ” – Dennis Kim

Any practice tips for youngsters?

Practice as if you were going to become a professional. Even if you don’t, you’ll become a very good amateur. Also, practice every day.

What makes a great musician?

For me, it’s someone who can communicate with the audience. When I play, I want people to go home a different person than when they came. If you go to a concert and nothing affects you and you’re like, ‘That was a nice evening but my life is no different,’ then I think we’re not doing our job as musicians or artists.

When you joined the Pacific Symphony in 2018, you chose to live in Irvine. Why?

The school system is amazing. The city is safe and clean. It has amazing restaurants of every ethnicity. It’s this perfectly thought-out, planned city.

Tell us about the upcoming show in Irvine.

I mean, live music, there’s nothing you can compare it to. When you come, I guarantee it’s going to be fun. There will be a lot of music you’ll recognize. I would love people to come out and really just approach musicians because we would love to speak and reach out as much as possible.



The Pacific Symphony will wrap up Irvine’s annual Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts with a special performance at Mike Ward Community Park on Aug. 15.

The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with a “musical playground” featuring interactive activities for children. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. with Music Director Carl St.Clair conducting.

Lawn seating is available first- come, first-served. Reserved seating and VIP seating is also available.

Bring a picnic basket or purchase treats from on-site gourmet food trucks.

The city’s summer concert series also includes the Tijuana Dogs (dance-party rock) on Aug. 7 and Neon Nation (’80s dance party) on Aug. 14.

For more information, visit