Artist Next Door: Composer seeks to join classical and contemporary

by Rachel Gregory correspondent

Composer and musician Su Jin Kang has a huge heart for the power of melody, the arts and people.

Kang, a junior music and worship major with an emphasis in composition, said she feels the warmth and aura of love in musical pieces. Kang is inspired to create during any given experience, whether good, hard or miserable because composition is “an expression of God’s love.”

As a composer, Kang is a writer, melodist and symphonist — that is, she creates melodies, writes lyrics and orchestrates symphonies. She began her musical experience in the classical vein in her native Seoul, South Korea, with a plethora of music students around her. “Asians, they just do music!” Kang said. “I’m still in the process of exploring what suits me and what genre best expresses who I am.”

Kang’s desire is to reach out to people through her music by writing contemporary pieces that incorporate classical mediums. As a lover of the mundane, she has many inspirations to fuel her artistry. She said that her relationships with different people trigger delight, yet her moments of clarity and inspiration come when she is alone. “Honestly,” she said, “during breaks at home when I’m just lying on my bed all alone and closing my eyes, that inspires me so much! It just comes!”

Kang’s musical journey began one day during lunch when her friend was playing a Mozart Sonata. “It was really beautiful to me and touched my heart,” she said. “It was as if warm and bright sunshine filled the room in that moment.”

She said that the music was a comfort to her, as she was weary from moving around so often and constantly not fitting in. It was at that moment that Kang realized she wanted to make music. She began playing the flute and piano and was later accepted to the Chicago Academy for the Arts, which she attended through high school. She began composing during her junior year.

When a tsunami hit Japan in 2011, Kang wrote an instrumental piece in response to the tragedy. In it she fused piano, cello, two violins, bass, contra bass and viola. “I always had a sorrowful heart for Japan because it is a neighboring country of mine and yet there is not a lot of salvation happening,” she said. 

Afterwards a friend from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago agreed to film Kang’s piece and put it online for the public with hopes of the piece finding its way to some people in Japan whose hearts could be softened and brought closer to God.

Kang reflects on her experiences in her non-Christian high school, realizing the student body’s lack for truth and the love of God. Eventually she would like to work in a college setting with secular art students, teaching and giving back through music. “I believe in the power of love … that’s why I want to write music that illustrates, that emotes Christ’s love,” she said.

Kang joked about being an astronaut one day, but only as long as she has a place to lay her head and shut her eyes, like her bed at home where the inspiring moments come. For Kang, odds are melodies and harmony will take on flesh, even if she were on the moon.

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This piece is considered a “standard” article in our print edition.
Artist Next Door: musicians, storytellers, painters, sculptors,
graphic designers and all the sort here at Moody

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