For Moorestown Friends School eighth-grader and Haddonfield resident Alexander Kwak, his road to music began when he first picked up a violin at 6 years old. Coming from a musical family, music came natural to Kwak. The musical passion inside of a young Kwak gave him the desire to first play, and it’s a desire that has continued to grow throughout his young music career.
From ages 6 to 11, Kwak mastered the art of playing the violin. His ability would eventually lead him to Orvieto, Italy, in the summer of 2016 to perform with a local orchestra. However, when Kwak turned 12, he put down the violin to play a different instrument, the cello.
“I learned a lot when I went to Italy,” said Kwak.”It was a great experience. The summer of 2016 taught me how other people played the violin and I got to pick up on a lot of skills from other people in the orchestra.
“Two year ago, I stopped playing the violin because I wanted to play the cello,” Kwak continued. “I like the sound of the cello over the sound of the violin. The strings on the cello are longer which gives the sound a much lower pitch, but the strings on the violin are much shorter which makes the strings much higher. The cello also came a lot more natural to me.”
Unknowingly, when Kwak switched from the violin to the cello, he had already spent five years preparing for the new instrument. According to Kwak, learning how to play the violin made playing the cello a lot easier. The preparation from playing both instruments gave Kwak an upper hand when he went to play for the New Jersey All-State Concert on May 18.
Kwak performed as the principal cellist and was given the honor of first chair. The numbered chairs of an orchestra are a ranking of the players’ proficiency and skill. First chairs typically serve as the section lead.
“I think he is very talented,” said his mother, Helen Ro. “In just two years, he got the first chair in the All-State concert. He had a broken finger right before the concert from playing basketball outside. We kind of gave up on it and the teacher was a little disappointed, but right after he got the cast off he got first chair. We were really shocked and we just thank God that he gave him that opportunity”
“I was really excited when I got the first chair,” said Kwak. “I worked really hard to get it so it felt really great.”
While Kwak is still very new into his cello and music career, his early success has reinforced his love for music. He has now performed overseas in Italy, in the Junior High All-South Jersey and All-State orchestra and is an active member of the Philadelphia Young Artist Orchestra. Kwak wants to continue to play the cello and to become the best cellist that he can be. He also wants to eventually go to music school to continue working on his craft.