'Speaking of the Arts': Helen Kim

Helen Kim is a professor of violin at Kennesaw State University. (Photo by: Judith Pishnery)

Helen Kim is a classical violinist living in Atlanta.

She cites as her greatest motivation her role as a teacher. She’s a professor of violin at Kennesaw State University and attests to being inspired daily by her students.

“Music is so unusual because it’s like fingerprints. No one has the same interpretation or takes on a piece of music,” says Kim.

She grew up in Calgary, in the province of Alberta, Canada. Kim’s first encounter with the violin was via the TV show “Sesame Street.” “The most magical sound came out of my parents’ television,” she said. It was an episode guest-starring the classical violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Her then-recent Korean immigrant parents took the hint and started her violin lessons at age four.

Years later, her own hero’s teacher Dorothy DeLay would call Kim personally to invite her to study at Julliard. The journey brought her to Atlanta in 1999 for a post in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where she remains to this day.

“The city has everything. It’s diverse in its makeup, and there’s a lot of space here for everyone, and it has really everything that you can look for culturally,” Kim says.

One of her favorite pieces to play is the fourth movement of Cesár Franck’s “Sonata for violin and piano,” which her pianist brother has been known to join her from time to time.

A resident of Oakhurst, Kim enthusiastically reps the neighborhood’s annual Porchfest, where she loves to hear the music of all genres.