Minsun Kim’s success is a classic example of what happens when parents give a child “roots and wings.”
Born and raised in Cheongju, South Korea, Minsun began playing piano at four years old and the violin at nine years old, not entirely unusual for a gifted young child. She does proudly share how her parents defied cultural norms and shepherded her musical talent.
“They always encouraged me to pursue my passion for music, even when times weren’t yet quite fond of seeing a foreign girl play violin,” Minsun Kim explains. “At the time, Korea was a poor country and girls were mainly expected to do housework. From a young age, my parents saw my talent and dedication. I would get nervous before big concerts and competitions and my parents would always say, ‘You are very special. You are the best one.’”
Even during her girlhood, a visionary leader was emerging as she embraced the entrepreneurial spirit of her grandfather, who she says saw a different future for Korea. “In an effort to help stimulate the Korean economy and develop the nation’s workforce, my grandfather built a business school in Cheongju.” Similarly, her dream was fueled when at the age of five, she saw the American classic, “The Sound of Music.”
“I watched it over and over and I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be like Maria, a music teacher and producer. I wanted to make people happy through music. I always wanted to open my own school.”
Fast forward to her life unfolding in the United States. Her dream became a reality in March 1992. President Minsun Kim founded the Long Island Conservatory in Albertson, NY. Her goal then and now was to help the next generation of musicians achieve their dreams through education. “Most students remind me of myself in a different way, but what I see in common with all of our students is their dedication and passion for music,” she says. Among the many opportunities for Conservatory students are competitions to lead to winners performing at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center’s Merkin Hall and Bruno Walter Auditorium.
With a similar vision for serving students who are pursuing academic, social and career goals, Long Island Conservatory and Nyack College have entered into an agreement to share resources that will especially benefit the international student population. President Kim notes, “In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, far too many schools have been forced to shut their doors for good. By partnering, LICM and Nyack can help each other overcome challenges faced by small colleges.” The agreement will also make the Conservatory’s LISMA Language Center an extension site for ESL instruction available to Nyack students at both the Long Island and Nyack Manhattan campuses.
Students at LICM hail from the places around the globe including Armenia, Germany, Russia, South Korea, China, Japan, Turkey, France, Italy, Thailand, India, Brazil, Argentina, as well as the United States and several other nations. With a staff of six, the 33 LICM faculty hold advanced degrees in the performing arts and have diverse backgrounds in conducting, music composition, music theory, history, education, production and dance. From the wealth of expertise and talent, President Kim says, “We hope to create a successful joint music program that strengthens the quality of the School of Music and bolsters enrollments numbers by creating a pipeline for talent.”
Nothing illustrates collegiality like building alliances based on shared vision. “LICM, like Nyack, is committed to academic excellence in an environment that embraces the richness of a diverse community,” says Nyack President Dr. Michael Scales. “Our expectation is that through this partnership of shared resources, a tremendous intercultural experience will flourish on both campuses.”