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Women's History Month Opera Sheroes: Eun Sun Kim

Posted on: March 10, 2023

Eun Sun Kim is a South Korean conductor, born on October 21, 1986. Kim began to play the piano at four years old, showing an early interest in music composition. She formally studied music composition at Yonsei University, under the guidance of Seung-Han Choi, who encouraged Kim to pursue conducting. Kim continued her music studies at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart where she graduated with distinction. Shortly after graduation, she was awarded the first prize in the International Jesús López Cobos Opera Conducting Competition at the Teatro Real Madrid. 

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Kim made her U.S. conducting debut in September 2017 with the Houston Grand Opera in their production of La Traviata. She did such an incredible job that in May 2018, she was appointed that company’s next principal guest conductor, effective with the 2019/20 season. She is the first conductor to be named to this post in 25 years and the first woman ever named to this post (talk about amazing!). 

In May of 2018, Kim conducted the opening concert of the Cincinnati May Festival and was the first female conductor ever to conduct there. In 2019, Eun Sun Kim was appointed as the music director of the San Francisco Opera, becoming the first female music director in that company's history. She has received critical acclaim for her ability to connect with an emotional depth and intensity of the music she conducts.  

Kim has conducted numerous orchestras and operas around the world, including the Berlin State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Royal Swedish Opera and San Francisco Opera. She has also conducted concerts with many renowned orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and even conducted Roberto Devereux with us right before lockdown. 

Cheers to another woman in opera who is breaking barriers, shining light, and being an inspiration to the next generation. 

Click here to watch Eun Sun Kim conduct Brahms at the 2018 Academic Festival.