Piano Virtuoso: David Lim ’12

Phillips Academy students have all heard David Lim ’12 play an amazing rendition of Liszt at ASM. Coming in as a new Lower, he effortlessly became part of the music program at Phillips Academy, playing his music at every opportunity. Lim also practices whenever he can in the midst of his heavy academic workload. Though many would expect Lim to have started at an extremely early age, Lim started in the second grade, rather late considering his skill with the piano. Q: When and how did you start playing? A: I started playing when I was seven, and I gave up at eight, and I started again in the second grade. And fourth grade, that’s when I got serious. I didn’t like instruments; I didn’t know why my parents were making me do it. I used to play the violin when I was really young, but I just didn’t like that I had to stand when I was practicing. Q: You’ve already played at ASM and multiple recitals. Do you plan to do more at Andover? A: Yup. There are a lot of opportunities to perform at Andover, and it’s sort of impossible to play at every recital. It takes time to prepare for a performance. The performance at ASM was such a great opportunity for me. Mr. Walter asked me to play a day before the ASM, which was a day after I came back from Thanksgiving. And the house I was staying at didn’t have a piano. So, I was de-conditioned and I had to cram up for ASM. I sort of messed up in the middle though. Q: Do you plan to pursue piano in the future? A: I’ve worked at the piano really hard, but here, I got into singing more at this school. I’m in Yorkies, Fidelio and two new groups: Project Asian and Rhapsodies in Blue. I found a capella to be really fun, and studying piano really helps you with singing. Q: Are there any pianists you look up to for inspiration? A: There are pianists that I like, but there are pianists that I don’t really like either. If I wanted to pick one pianists or musician, it would be Myung-Whun Chung. He’s now a conductor, really famous. I once went to his concert. He has this orchestra, Asia Philharmonic, and it was great. Q: Do you get stage fright? A: Well, it depends. The ASM performance was the first time I performed in front of more than 500 people, and I had coffee in the morning which increased my heartbeat and made me really nervous. Actually, I was extremely nervous. Otherwise, I tend not to be so nervous. I might get nervous before I get on the stage, but once I get out and sit on the piano, I don’t feel like the audience is there. If I practice enough, I’m more confident. For ASM, I didn’t practice enough so I was nervous. Q: When did you know that piano was going to be your “thing”, your talent? A: The turning point of my life was March 2008. I won this concerto competition, and I played with an orchestra. It was special because of my grandfather. He lost his family when he was twenty in the Korean War, so he was an orphan, and he grew up depending on classical music. My other grandfather, he had polio when he was young and was immobilized for twenty years and also depended a lot on classical music. [The performance] was really meaningful because before, it was about how well I played and how musically correct I was. That time, not only was the music right, but I put my own color in it and embedded my own experience embedded. I felt my music being shared with the audience and after the performance, this one guy came up to me and said that it was like no other experience he had in his life, which meant that I had connected with him through music. My grandfathers were really grateful too, so it was sort of the turning point on how I view my music. You can study and practice really hard and get all of these things and that’s the math part of music. But the other part, the emotional and psychological part, I don’t think it can ever be calculated. And even if you try to have it, unless you have another life experience you bring into it, it’s the sentiment that originates from the experience and that makes it intimate. That’s when it has the power to actually move people.