For Kevin Song, music runs in the family.
Kevin, principal cellist in the SDYS Ovation Program’s Symphony Orchestra and a senior at Torrey Pines High School, began his musical journey at just four years old. His first influence was his older sister Lauren, who played violin. “She’s always been one of my greatest inspirations,” Kevin said. That early exposure to Lauren’s practicing and performances encouraged Kevin to play as well, though he knew he wanted to try something different. Drawn to the cello for its larger size and beautiful sound quality, Kevin has been dedicated to his instrument for thirteen years.
His parents, Sun Young and Paul, have proudly supported him every step along the way. “Whether helping me start cello in the first place, getting my first instrument, driving me to my lessons, or supporting me at concerts, my family was always there for me,” Kevin said. “Music education has really brought us together as a family.” His parents also support SDYS through volunteering and annual giving.
For the Song family, a turning point of Kevin’s music education was joining SDYS after moving to San Diego. Having never played in a large ensemble before, Kevin faced a new challenge in Music Director Jeff Edmons’ Symphony Orchestra. “Mr. Edmons has a way of translating his passion and his knowledge in a really inspiring way, which has helped me grow into a more well-rounded musician and person,” Kevin said. “We joined SDYS with high expectations and we got an even better experience than we honestly could have hoped for.”
In his first year at SDYS, Kevin competed in the annual Concerto Competition and won first place—earning the chance to perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D Major with the full Symphony Orchestra at Copley Symphony Hall. Kevin felt honored to perform his favorite piece surrounded by his new friends in the orchestra. “To me, SDYS isn’t just a group of students playing together. It’s become a family for me,” Kevin said.
“I feel we are like family,” agreed Sun Young. “SDYS prepared signs and ribbons on the back of the chairs—it made us feel very special. I’m very thankful to all the SDYS staff for the memory.”
Kevin’s other achievements include performing as both a soloist and in the orchestra as part of last year’s SDYS appearance on From the Top, NPR’s popular weekly music radio show which showcases outstanding young musical talent, and joining the National Youth Orchestra as one of its principal cellists—and one of its youngest members. Nevertheless, his humble, joyful nature keeps him focused less on collecting accomplishments and more on his personal growth and passion for music. “I honestly play the cello because I love it,” Kevin said. “My main priority is just to always enjoy what I’m doing.”
Kevin will graduate high school next spring, and while he hasn’t yet decided his next chapter, he’s certain that music will always be part of his life. “It’s something that I would never want to just stop doing,” Kevin said. “It’s such an important part of my life and it gives me so much joy.”
No matter where he goes in life, Kevin will have the support of his parents and friends—and of course, his entire musical family at SDYS.