B i o g r a p h y
Based in New York City, South Korean violinist, improviser, producer, and teacher Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim (임규현) was co-founder of the Unison Quartet, Impromptuo, and Muzosynth Orchestra (formerly the Moving Orchestra). Her debut album, Starling (2023), was picked album of the day on Bandcamp Daily, picked best new song on Paste Magazine, and premiered on Deepest Currents. Lim has been presented by acclaimed organisations such as Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Chamber Music America, House of Yes, International Contemporary Ensemble, Joe's Pub, The Juilliard School, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Luzerne Music Center, Metropolis Ensemble, Music Technology at Mason Gross, and Prague Conservatory, as well as Current Showcase, Fifth Wall Performing Arts, and National Arts Diversity Integration Association. She has also been part of the Variousound Sessions 2020 Residency and the Bushwick Improvised Music Series in Brooklyn, NY.
Lim’s early performing career, starting at the age of 10, mainly took place in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of partnership between Seoul Oratorio and Prague Conservatory. She has performed in renowned venues such as Rudolfinum, Pálffy Palác, and the Antonín Dvořák Memorial at Vysoká u Příbrami. Around the same time in her home country, Lim went far from the cultural offerings of the capital city, Seoul, and gave a year-long series of non-profit concerts at numerous under-served countryside schools, sharing her passion in music with children and students who did not have much opportunity to experience live music. Following her studies in the Prague Conservatory affiliated program, she was awarded a scholarship to study as a specialist musician at Wells Cathedral School, and at the age of 13, moved to the UK. Lim served as principal second violin in the string ensemble as soon as she entered the school, and at the age of 16, she toured the south of Germany with the school’s string chamber orchestra as a principal player. A year later, she led the school’s symphony orchestra and string chamber orchestra as the concertmaster. That same year, she performed in Milan, Italy, with her accomplished chamber music group, the One Man Quartet, after winning the Mid-Somerset Festival competition.
Lim has deep-dived into the world of free-form improvisation since January 2019, when her duo, Impromptuo, with pianist Joey Chang was formed. They are an innovative improvisation-focused duo that aims to tell the story of each audience through their performances, utilizing audience suggestions as direct inspirations to their improvisations. Impromptuo was a recipient of a Chamber Music America Ensemble Forward 2021 grant, made possible with generous support from the New York Community Trust, which has allowed them a prodigious opportunity to work with composer/multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey. In 2022, they were chosen to participate in the Evolution: Classical programme at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, where they developed their project, “Darkroom Processing: 吃飯了嗎?/밥 먹었니?” The duo is also co-founders of The Moving Orchestra, an interdisciplinary free-form improvisation group. Through Muzosynth Orchestra, Lim and Chang aim to provide a creative space for a large group of improvisers to perform together.
"Listening to [Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim] is an intriguing and, at times, heart-lifting experience."
- Garreth Brooke
An avid chamber musician, Lim was a founding member of the Nova Quartet, one of the 4 groups selected for The Juilliard School’s 2015-2016 Honors Chamber Music program. Nova Quartet gave recitals and premiered new music in diverse venues, including Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall of the Kaufman Music Center, and Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Buffalo, NY. In 2018, Lim co-founded the Unison Quartet, who were finalists and received honorary mention at the Bartók World Competition. Lim’s previous coaches in European classical chamber music include David Bowlin, Ron Copes, Joel Krosnick, Astrid Schween, Joel Smirnoff, Roger Tapping, Fred Sherry, Laurie Smukler, Michael Tree, and Barbara Hannigan.
As a soloist, Lim won the concerto competition at Wells Cathedral School at the age of 16, which led her to perform Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy” with the school’s symphony orchestra under the baton of UK’s notable conductor Christopher Adey. Two years later, she was a laureate at the East Coast International Competition in New York City. Her previous teachers include Young-Chul Choi, Pavel Kudelásek, Catherine Lord, Laurie Smukler, and Sally Thomas. She had also appeared in master classes with Lucy Chapman, James Ehnes, Rodney Friend, Joji Hattori, So Ock Kim, Svetlin Roussev, and Dennis Simons.
In addition to performing, Lim is a loving teacher of 19 young violinists aged 6 – 17 in NYC. She began her teaching career at the Meadowmount School of Music in the summer of 2016 as a teaching assistant of Sally Thomas. She continues to teach in NYC as a faculty member at Opus 118 Harlem School of Music since 2017 and at New Amsterdam School since 2020. Lim is also a worker-owner and musician-owner at Groupmuse, a cooperative seeking to uplift artists and strengthen broader community bonds through live, intimate performances of historically-rooted music..
Lim holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Sally Thomas and Laurie Smukler, and is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, studying with Todd Phillips.