The Aizuri Quartet, from left, Ariana Kim, Karen Ouzounian, Ayane Kozasa and Miho Saegusa.

Ariana Kim, Aizuri Quartet win prestigious M-Prize

The Aizuri Quartet, with violinist and assistant professor of music Ariana Kim, took the grand prize May 6 at the M-Prize Chamber Music Competition held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

As the international competition’s overall winner, the New York-based quartet will receive $100,000, concert engagements, artist representation and a recording deal.

“We’re still a little shell-shocked. I didn’t know what to expect – it’s the biggest prize in my field,” Kim said. “It was intense for sure.”

The four-day event included semifinals with about 30 junior and senior division competitors, with the three senior winners in strings, winds, and open categories performing in a Gala Concert final; an interview round and a lecture-demonstration for local elementary school students.

“Most competitions are exclusively performance-based but here they are looking for a holistic perspective on the group, your ethos and philosophy of music,” Kim said. “You perform and do an interview round. You give a 10-minute presentation, they ask questions. There’s an educational outreach round where they observe how we are engaging with the community. And then you perform in the Gala Concert, which determines the grand prize winner.”

Kim joined violist Ayane Kozasa, cellist Karen Ouzounian and violinist Miho Saegusa in the Aizuri Quartet in 2016. A weeklong Cornell residency in March 2017 included a concert, open rehearsals and a master class for Department of Music students.

“We started preparing for the M-Prize nearly a year ago,” Kim said. “There are so many things they take into consideration – curatorial practices, community engagement, how we envision programming, how we see diversity and the future of music, how we balance our lives. You have to be very entrepreneurial and thoughtful and engaging and excited about looking at the future.”

Last May, the quartet received the gold medal for string quartet at the Ninth Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, winning a 3 million yen ($27,000) cash prize and a three-week Grand Prix national tour of Japan, undertaken in November.

Aizuri Quartet is the MetLiveArts Quartet in Residence for the 2017-18 season at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, curating five concerts around political and social themes in different Met venues. The fifth program in the series, “Music and Migration,” is June 1 with clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh. The quartet plans to release its debut album in September with New Amsterdam Records.

Kim earned degrees from Juilliard and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and joined the Cornell faculty in 2012. She teaches and mentors violin and chamber music ensemble students and has received grants from the President’s Council of Cornell Women and the Society for the Humanities.

As a soloist, ensemble player and educator, Kim plays chamber music festivals, concerts and recitals across the United States and in Canada and Europe; leads clinics and master classes at colleges and universities and teaches underserved middle school students at Title I schools in San Jose, California. Her collaborative music and art project with North African refugees in Brescia, Italy, “Le storie di vita nel legno,” was included in the Cornell Council for the Arts’ 2016 Biennial.

Her solo album, “Routes of Evanescence,” released in December 2015, features works by American women composers. Kim also performs with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota and New York-based musical collective The Knights.

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson