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Grad Success

Profiles of Florida State's Best and Brightest

Wonkak Kim

Wonkak Kim

College of Music

  • Master of Music, 2009
  • Doctor of Music, 2012

Grad Success: Wonkak Kim

In a moment of reflection, Wonkak Kim describes the highlight of his career: performing for the first time at Carnegie Hall as part of Florida State’s student collective.

“We had a terrific concert, and a lot of composers were present. It was very exciting.”

Kim, a South Korean-native who grew up in Seoul and Paris, began playing the clarinet in middle school. His passion, however, did not arise until his college years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he double majored in mathematics and music.

Following his graduation, Kim decided to make his passion a reality. He enrolled in Florida State’s music program, and under the tutelage of the respected Frank Kowalsky, he obtained his master’s and doctorate in woodwind performance.

Kim is appreciative of all the opportunities he received while at Florida State, including the chance to perform live with other students at Carnegie Hall.

“I can’t imagine a better combination of faculty members and resources,” he says.

He also credits the College of Music for assisting in the production of his first studio album, “Gulf Streams”, which was signed to the prestigious NAXOS label and has received international acclaim.

Kim is currently a professor at Tennessee Tech University, where he is the assistant professor of clarinet. He is a founding member of enhakē (the Seminole word for “sound”), an award-winning ensemble that has recorded several albums and performed at various venues in the United States and internationally.

Kim also continues to travel and perform both solo and with alongside other distinguished musicians, such as Richard Stoltzman and Yo-Yo Ma. He is a regular guest artist and teacher at the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music and other renowned institutions around the world.

Kim’s biggest piece of advice to students seeking a career in music is to “absolutely love it.” He acknowledges the difficulty in finding jobs and success in a competitive field, but believes that anyone with enough passion and hard work can succeed. This has certainly proven true for Kim, who continues to contribute his passion and talent to the world.

If you work hard enough and love what you do, you can be successful even in the most competitive field.