Precollege Faculty:Violin, Viola
Acclaimed as one of the finest violinists of his generation, Byung Kook Kwak enjoys a multifaceted career as a soloist, chamber musician, conductor, and educator. Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times described him as “a distinguished artist” who “brought warm, penetrating sound and tasteful expressivity.” From coast to coast, critics have hailed him as a premier violinist whose musical gifts and technical wizardry are powerful and sensitive. Mr. Kwak has performed with orchestras throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Scandinavia. Finalist and prizewinner of many international competitions, he was featured on PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center as a member of the renowned Sea Cliff Chamber Players. He has taught at Mannes College for 10 years as an assistant to Aaron Rosand and is currently a member of the Manhattan School of Music Precollege faculty and the faculty of Nyack College. In addition, he performs and gives master classes regularly in Seoul, Korea.
Mr. Kwak maintains a busy conducting schedule as well. He has been the conductor of the Summit Music Festival Orchestra for the past five years; has conducted the Queens Symphony Orchestra; and from 1999 to 2006 conducted the Manhattan School of Music Summer Festival Orchestra. He has been engaged as a guest conductor with the Long Beach Symphony, South Shore Symphony, Yonkers Philharmonic, State Repertory Opera, and the Queens Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Orchestra of the Westchester Conservatory of Music. As a founder and artistic director of Solisti Ensemble, he has performed with the Ensemble in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and Zankel Hall and in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He has also been active as a choral conductor for over thirty years and has led countless performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Central Presbyterian Church Choir where he is serving as a music director.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Mr. Kwak was hailed as a child prodigy. He made his orchestral debut at the age of 7 with the Seoul Philharmonic. After earning many accolades and winning prestigious competitions in his native country, Mr. Kwak came to the U.S. and, at age 12, became one of Jascha Heifetz’s youngest students. He earned both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay.
Manhattan School of Music Precollege faculty since 1992.