5 Questions With Concertmaster Dennis Kim

Learn some fun facts about the international violinist, including his favorite O.C. spots.

The Pacific Symphony concertmaster has led orchestras in Hong Kong, Seoul, Finland, and Buffalo, N.Y. So he has clout when he says Orange County has some of the best food in the world. The violinist for Trio Barclay and instructor at UC Irvine and Orange County School of the Arts also spends time in L.A. recording studios making movie and TV soundtracks: “Everything you all watch on the big screen and on Netflix,” he says.

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

What was your biggest challenge during stay-at-home orders?

Not being able to perform and see the audience. Not being able to make music with my colleagues. … The scariest thing was we didn’t know when it was going to start up again. After a short bit, we could do stuff online and stay connected. But every musician and artist was in the same boat. 

Is there something that might surprise people about you?

Growing up in Toronto, I was not a kid who just played music. I played all sports—hockey and even high school football. Today I play racquetball, pickleball, tennis, golf—I’m at the gym every day.

Favorite O.C. restaurant?

There are so many. Our family choice for birthdays is Javier’s. Both of them—the one in Irvine and the one in Crystal Cove.

Where do you take tourists in O.C.?

Friends come see me perform, so I show them Segerstrom, the Barclay Theatre, and South Coast Repertory. Food-based, we have the best Asian food in the world. We go to BCD Tofu House, Chai Lan, Honey Pig Korean BBQ, and lots of pho places my daughters love. 

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Some of our biggest (Pacific Symphony) fans were still cautious about coming out. Hopefully more people come out so we can have the huge audiences we had before the pandemic. For Trio Barclay, we have three world premieres written for us. It’s important to play new music because without it, our art form will die.


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