Alumni ProfilesGRACE KIM (PIANO 2002)

From Korea to Australia, to Europe and back to Australia, Grace Kim has carved out an impressive career as concert pianist, teacher, artistic director, adjudicator and mentor to students.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Grace came to Australia with her family at the age of nine. Grace wasn’t under any pressure from her family to play a musical instrument, but she quickly gravitated to the piano. Her parents gave their full support and trust to her teachers, which allowed Grace the freedom to explore and grow. “I think that, for me, was an excellent fertiliser,” reflects Grace. “This meant I could fully embrace and learn from my failures as well as successes.”

From an early age, Grace participated in competitions and eisteddfods and was successful in many, winning prizes at the Citta di Marsala  International Piano Competition (1993), the Bellini  International Piano Competition, Italy (2004), National Keyboard Winner of the 2000 Symphony Australia Young Performers Award, and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Trust.

After graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium in 1999, Grace attended the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) for three years of the Advanced Performance Program, where, in her final year, she was made the Inaugural Performance Fellow (2002). Her years at ANAM prepared Grace for professional life as a musician. "In my final year, I could curate my own projects. The most important takeaway for me in those years is the group of special people I shared this time with.” 

"I learnt by DOING. We were given opportunities to try anything and everything musically."

After ANAM, Grace undertook a Master of Music at the University of Melbourne (later followed up with a second Master of Music from Rotterdam Conservatorium). During her studies, Grace was awarded the Winston Churchill Fellowship, the Huygens Scholarship and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust Overseas Music Scholarship, among others, which enabled her to travel to the Netherlands. Grace acknowledges that her Melbourne years – at ANAM and at the University of Melbourne - had prepared her well for a fulfilling performance career in Europe where she spent eight years based in the Netherlands but also performing in France, Germany, and Italy.

Whilst in Europe, Grace was able to fully develop her passion for chamber music. In 2007/08 she was the Artistic Director of the Summer Concert Series in the celebrated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. With her cellist husband Teije Hylkema, they formed the Odyssey Piano Trio, who in 2011 recorded the complete Mendelssohn Piano Trios. Amongst the many highlights of her time overseas, Grace performed for Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Australian Governor-General Major General Michael Jeffery at the 400th anniversary celebrations of Dutch-Australian contact.

In 2014, Grace returned to Australia with her young family. She founded Mountain Concerts, where as artistic director curated and performed in world-class chamber music performances for the local community in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

As a mother of two children, Grace is an advocate for quality music education. In 2017, she launched Sensory Concerts® to provide quality classical music concerts for families with sensory needs, commonly associated with autism and ADHD. For Grace, this project demonstrates the true meaning and power of music. In 2018, Grace also made her debut as an author, with Noah's Story written together with her neurodivergent son, about life with autism. Her recent thesis research on “Calming effects of repetition in music for children with sensory sensitivities" at The MARCS Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Development is now published in The Arts in Psychotherapy journal.
In addition to her private teaching and performing, Grace enjoys her diverse roles at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; as a casual academic, and a teacher in the Rising Stars Program fostering young talents. Grace is also undertaking PhD research at the University of Sydney, where she is also a tutor for Psychology of Music. 

“I feel that all my training and experiences have led me to this point, where I can use music to make a positive impact in our community.” 

Find out more about Grace’s books, research, CDs and upcoming performances at

Interview by Hugh Hallard (ANAM Volunteer), updated by Laura Panther (May 2024)
Photo Credit: David Hill,  Deep Hill Media 

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