Stories of Impact: Claire Deokyong Kim ’21

Claire Kim playing cello

Cellist Claire Deokyong Kim ’21 did not know what to expect when she arrived at NEC to study with her teacher Lluis Claret. As a student in what she remembers as an exceedingly intense and competitive Arts school in Korea, Claire was accustomed to intense pressure to achieve perfection. Right away though, she sensed that NEC would provide her with a new and refreshing approach. “When I first came to NEC, everything was so different,” she recalls.

The intersection of studio lessons, ensemble participation, and coursework helped Claire to experience her music in a more holistic way. “When I was in Korea,” she says, “I used to care only about what was written on the score. But now I learn about the background of the composition and also about the composer to better understand the piece. And I relate them to my performance,” she explains, “which makes me a mature musician.”

All of this has obviously paid off, as Claire recently won NEC’s Concerto Competition last spring, and had the honor of performing Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major with the NEC Philharmonia under the baton of Maestro Hugh Wolff on the Jordan Hall stage.

Claire’s NEC experience has not only changed the way she approaches her artistry, but also has inspired her to connect with the audience more deeply. “Years ago,” she says, “I wanted to play at the highest level, but now that I’m here, I also try to express myself, to connect with the audience and enjoy the performance.”

There is no doubt about the rigor of NEC’s programs, but Claire is grateful for the opportunity to think beyond the notes on the score.


“I think music is important because it helps people express emotion like nothing else can. Music is not just a sound, but it is a feeling; an emotion which connects us to the world around us. That is what I am pursuing in my musical career and I cannot imagine a life without it.”


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