Kim’s departure is the first among musicians of the two Twin Cities orchestras since they were locked out last fall in a labor dispute.
Kim’s wife, Pitnarry Shin, is a cellist with the Minnesota Orchestra. They moved to the Twin Cities less than 18 months ago.
Kim is performing in New York this week and could not be reached for comment.
He said in a prepared statement that the “last thing we wanted to do was displace our family again so soon after moving here, but this is the reality of the lockouts. While I am thrilled at this opportunity to play with one of the world’s great orchestras, I am saddened to be leaving the SPCO under these circumstances. In the space of four months, the lockouts of both orchestras have changed the Twin Cities from a destination metropolis for musicians to a place that many of us are actively trying to leave.”
Kim is also a member of the musicians’ negotiating team and was on the executive search committee to find a new president for the orchestra.
Said Carole Mason Smith, head of the Musicians Negotiations Committee, “It’s a great loss for the SPCO. We’ve said repeatedly to management that we will not be able to recruit or retain the talent that this orchestra needs to remain world class, and this is just a textbook example of that.”
SPCO spokeswoman Jessica Etten said that management congratulates Kim on his new position, and is "sad to lose his great artistry and leadership.” Kim has requested a leave of absence through June 2014, Etten said.
Requesting leave, rather than completely severing ties, is a common practice among orchestra musicians that allows the possibility of a future return. Peter McGuire, a violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra, requested leave last fall, before the lockout, to serve as a concertmaster in Zurich.
Etten said that management shares the musicians’ concern about recruiting and retaining top talent. “The path to realizing this vision requires financial sustainability in addition to artistic excellence,” she said.
Management and the musicians’ committee’s will meet again next week in their ongoing negotiations.