Bow-ndless Love For Music: A Feature On the Co-Concertmasters


Photo by Aaron Sha

Co-concertmaster David Jang leads the symphonic orchestra through A Mad Russian’s Christmas in preparation for the winter concert.

Aaron Sha, Staff Writer

Symphonic Orchestra is a gold mine of creative and talented students. Among these musicians, sophomores David Jang and Sanghyun Kim rose through the ranks and currently sit in first and second chairs of the violin section as co-concertmasters.

“I just picked up instruments one day knowing that my parents told me it’s good for me to play an instrument.” Jang said. “I tried out violin, and I really got into it. As I got into the school music program, I just liked to be at the top, to be in a good leadership role, to gather other people to just play some good music.”

Jang has played the violin since he was five and has been taking music to new levels at school since fourth grade. Jang is constantly aiming to be the top musician in his section while maintaining good musicianship.

Kim, on the other hand, began his musical career when he was eight-years-old, and won many competitions in both South Korea and the United States, including first place in a past Southwestern Youth Music Festival. Kim takes his violin career very seriously and is currently part of the first violin section of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra as well as co-concertmaster in the Symphonic Orchestra.

“To be any sort of section leader and concertmaster, you have to be able to determine what bowings and what approaches to a piece of music make the most sense,” visual and performing arts department chair Desmond Stevens said. “and be able to share and disseminate that information among your section, and then obviously have good musicianship and great playing ability yourself.”

The concertmaster, or the leader of the orchestra, was decided through an audition in early October. It is the concertmaster’s responsibility to unify his or her section as well as the entire orchestra.

In the previous school year, there was only one concertmaster in the symphonic orchestra, being current sophomore Daniel Han, and there were numerous challenges and competitions amongst the higher chairs throughout the year. This year, two excellent players were chosen together, while competition somewhat died down after seating auditions as it may cause aggression and be potentially harmful for musicians.

Co-concertmasters ensure that all the bowings, or techniques of using the bow, of their section are correct, and that every musician has the right fingerings, or finger placements, in order to produce the right notes. The co-concertmasters must also lead the orchestra during practice and play solos provided in the music.

“[The co-concertmasters] are doing wonderfully,” Stevens said. “We have an awesome piece that we’re performing for our [winter] concert that features both of them, and they both bring a great level of experience and showmanship to the concert.”