Inside the instrument case – Gold for the flute

By Annette Zerpner Oct. 12, 2022


© Tobias Kruse / OSTKREUZ

If you believe that gold is a privilege of the brass section, you've never looked into Yubeen Kim's flute case. With his golden flute, our principal flutist even won the equivalent of a gold medal at this year's prestigious ARD competition.

Everyone knows that a flute case doesn’t offer much space for objects from a musician’s daily life. Fortunately, unlike his colleagues who play the oboe, bassoon and clarinet, our principal flutist Yubeen Kim doesn’t need to scrape reeds or tighten ligatures.

Simply assembling the gold flute and entering the stage? It’s not that easy either! Different gold alloys produce different tones. “I can change the sound by combining my ‘normal’ gold flute with an alternative head joint,” Yubeen tells us. A turbo head joint, so to speak, that makes his instrument sound even more radiant when a piece requires it.

A wooden flute is also part of Yubeen’s equipment. It sounds more restrained and blends beautifully with the strings in Baroque and early Classical works. “But it’s also a Boehm flute,” Yubeen explains. “That means it has the same mechanics as my gold flute.” So it’s not a Baroque-style transverse flute – that would be a very different instrument.

In addition to a tuner, cigarette paper to clean sticky keys, a cleaning cloth and a dental care set, we discover a lucky charm – the coat of arms of Harry Potter’s Gryffindor house at Hogwarts dangles as a pendant from the flute case. “I do like Harry Potter,” laughs Yubeen. “But this is really a memento of my first concert with the Berlin Philharmonic as a sub at the principal flute. John Williams himself conducted his Harry Potter film score. That was something very special.”

In late summer, the pendant definitely brought Yubeen Kim good luck at the ARD Music Competition – something indispensable for winning besides in-depth preparation and exceptional musicianship!

Yubeen Kim is warming up before the prize winner concert of the ARD competition

“Many people asked me: Why are you doing the competition? You already have a good orchestral position and have won prizes at important competitions. But I saw this as a nice challenge for myself.”

At 25, Yubeen Kim is already a very experienced orchestral musician: “I was able to play much more confidently in the competition than I would have five years ago. It’s now or never, I told myself.” Because the flute won’t be featured again so soon in the ARD competition.

That meant he had to skip this year’s holiday. Yubeen spent the Konzerthausorchester’s seasonal summer break in Korea with his family, preparing the demanding programme. But it was all worth it: “I was very pleased that so many of my colleagues from the Konzerthausorchester supported me, sent messages and streamed the finale. And of course, I’m overjoyed that everything turned out so well with my first prize win.”

That's a winner – Yubeen Kim after the prize winner concert in September

Throwback to May 2018: Yubeen Kim in a Konzerthausorchester rehearsal before his big solo in Debussy’s “L’après-midi d’un faune”. He has been principal flutist with us since 2016.

Photos: Tobias Kruse/Ostkreuz (cover); Markus Werner (flute case); Daniel Delang (ARD competition); Norbert Möller (rehearsal Konzerthausorchester)


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