I believe that a musician is someone who tells a story with sound in such a way as to stir a listener’s imagination. All the hard work we do in trying to play the violin “perfectly” is really wasted if it were not ultimately to serve the music in the best possible way. In any case, telling a story on the violin is infinitely more communicative and fun than just playing cleanly. I try to instil this in everyone I teach, regardless of their technical ability.
I have had such incredible input by all the different professors with whom I have studied over the years. Besides the imaginatively inspired and thorough approach they took in teaching me, they were also instrumental in teaching me how to be an encouraging human being toward students. Much of being good at what you do is directly related to your level of confidence as a person and the learned ability to repeatedly overcome despite your circumstances. It is amazing how feeling secure can make you a better musician and better able to handle such a complex instrument as a violin. I certainly hope to inspire my students in this way!
Ning Kam was born in Singapore and began studying the violin at age six with her father, violinist and composer, Kam Kee Yong. In 1987 she received scholarships from the Lee and Shaw Foundations of Singapore to enter the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, UK where she studied with Maurizio Fuks, Wen Zhou Li and the late Sidney Griller. In 1993 she entered the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia to study with Jaime Laredo and Yumi Scott and received her Bachelor Degree there. She then went on to study with Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she received her Masters of Music Degree and an Artist Diploma.
34In 1991, Ning won First Prize in the junior section of the Folkestone Menuhin International Violin Competition, she was a prizewinner at the Third International Pablo Sarasate Violin Competition in Pamplona in 1995, a finalist in the 2000 Henryk Szeryng Career Awards, culminating in winning Second Prize “Prix du Gouvernement Fédérale Belge Eugène Ysaye” at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition of Belgium in 2001. Hailed by De Standaard as “manifestly the best violinist of the competition” she also won the Flemish Radio and Television Audience Prize there. The Strad Magazine praised her as a “strong artistic personality”. Ms. Kam has also been honoured by the National Arts Council of Singapore with the Young Artist Award, presented in 2000 to a young artist of extraordinary talent. She has been featured on the documentary “Portrait of the Artist” on SBC, Singapore, and has been broadcast on SBC Radio Singapore as well as on CBC Radio Canada’s “Music Around Us” Series at the Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto. In October 2002, Ning was invited to perform at the National Inauguration of the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay Concert Hall in Singapore, where she partnered Sarah Chang in Bach’s double violin concerto with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lan Shui. This occasion was graced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore. She was invited as an honouraree at the President’s Command Performance in April 2009 where she performed her own arrangement of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace”.
Ning Kam has given many concerts in Europe, Singapore, Canada and the United States. She has performed at the Menuhin Music Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland. In 1988 she appeared on BBC’s Blue Peter, where she played to a television audience of seven million. In that same year, she performed the Mendelssohn Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall, with the Wren Orchestra. Since then she has appeared with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, Flemish Radio Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. As an active chamber musician, she participated at the prestigious Ravinia Festival at the Steans Institute for Young Artists 2000.
Ning released her first CD in 1997, featuring the works of Enesco, Sarasate, her father, Kam Kee Yong as well as transcriptions by Heifetz. Most recent releases are a CD dedicated to the music of the Americas entitled “Transatlantic”, and a recording, “Cicada”, dedicated solely to the music of Kam Kee Yong. American Record Guide has praised “Transatlantic” as “energetic and virtuosic” as well as having “humour, lightness and strength”. ClassicsToday.com has called Kam’s playing “stunning” and “fiendish” and a 10/10 was given by the Belgian music magazine “Crescendo” for this original recording. Ning released her debut recording with orchestra of the August De Boeck Violin Concerto with the Flemish Radio Orchestra conducted by Marc Soustrot, under the Etcetera label. As a chamber musician, Ning is also part of the Elessar Trio. Their recording of the music of Astor Piazzolla was released in 2008 on Illuminate Records and is available for online download. Other releases in 2008 also include the chamber music of Alexander Goehr on the Meridian Records label, where Ning performs as part of the Chiron Trio with pianist Daniel Becker and cellist, Thomas Carroll.
20Ning has performed in concerts all over the world with the Singapore Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, Flemish Radio Orchestra, Flemish Symphony Orchestra, Brussels National Orchestra, Liege Philharmonic, Shenzhen Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. As an artist who has great interest in championing contemporary music, Ning Kam gave the world-premiere of Claude Ledoux’s “Frissons D’Aile”, a concerto for violin and orchestra dedicated to Ning and commissioned by the Liege Philharmonic. In January 2005, she performed with pianist, Daniel Becker at London’s Purcell Room in the Park Lane Group Series for Young Artists featuring contemporary music. This concert was reviewed by the London Times as “gutsy and electrifying”. The Telegraph also described Ning as a violinist with “much flair plus a totally confident stage presence and an absolute command of the music” and that the performance had “thrilling energy and control”. She has also been invited to broadcast on the BBC Radio 3 programme, “In Tune” in January 2005 and made her successful Wigmore Hall debut in May 2006 with British pianist, Carole Presland, as part of the Park Lane Group Series. Concerts in the 2007-2008 season included appearances with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Klassische Filharmonie Bonn, Flemish Radio Orchestra, as well as recitals in Taiwan, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the USA. Special projects that season included a Taiwan concert tour with percussionist, Francis Kam in a ground-breaking violin and drums programme. The 2008-2009 season included her debuts with the Phoenix and Tucson Symphony Orchestras as well as recitals and chamber music as part of the Concerts du Midi series at the Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, at Kings Place, London and at the Ulverston Festival, UK. Ning also made her leading and directing debut with the Het Kamerorkest Brugge in Belgium in 2009 and has returned every season since as leader and director of Het Kamerorkest Brugge. Beginning in september 2011, Ning commenced in her role as the new Artistic Director of Het Kamerorkest Brugge. 2010 also saw Ning’s China debut with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra with whom she returned in the 2011-2012 season with conductor, Christian Ehwald. Other engagements in the 2011/2012 season included a return with the Symfonieorkest van Vlaanderen with conductor, Guy van Waas on a tour of Belgium and a collaboration with Jonas Alber at Laon Festival. In august 2013, Ning released a new recording , Road Movies with pianist, Albert Tiu, under the Meridian Records, UK label. This upcoming season will be Ning’s third as Artistic Director with Het Kamerorkest. She will also be debuting with the Thuringen Philharmonie and collaborating with cellist, Katherine Jenkinson in duo recitals across the United Kingdom.
Aside from being a musician, Ning is also a born-again Christian whose interests include long-distance running. She has completed 4 half-marathons and 3 full marathons to date and enjoys raising money for charity in this particular sport.
Since April 2012, Ning commenced in her role as Ambassador for International China Concern, a Christian charity that cares for the abandoned and disabled in China.