One of Anderson University’s newest professors in the School of Music is Gert Kumi, who started teaching at AU this past fall. He is an expert violinist and has performed around the world, including China, South Korea, Africa, and throughout Europe.
Kumi comes to AU after teaching at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., for the past three years. Currently, he gives six violin students one-on-one lessons once a week, teaches a string technique class for music education majors, and co-conducts AU’s chamber orchestra. [Photo on left: Professor Kumi directs the students at a Chamber Orchestra practice for the Candles and Carols performance in December. They are rehearsing “Le Quarto Stagioni” by Antonio Vivaldi.]
“He works hard at teaching and modeling the artistry that our students need to emulate, and he is committed to helping us build a strong string program at AU,” said Dr. Jeffrey Wright, dean of the College of the Arts. “ We are all greatly impressed with his energy, artistry, and vision for our music school. I could not be more pleased with his strong work ethic and his sense of cooperation.”
Born and raised in Albania, Kumi immigrated to the United States in 2000 when he enrolled in the master’s program at the Julliard School of Music in New York City. He graduated in 2003.
Kumi began playing the violin when he was eight years old. His older sister began playing at the age of six. “Listening to her play the violin fascinated me. Every time she would take a break, I would go play it,” said Kumi.
When he first started playing the violin, he practiced about an hour a day. This increased rapidly, and by the time he was in the fourth grade, he practiced about four hours a day. “From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to be a violinist,” said Kumi.
At age 11, he began watching the Vietnam Philharmonic Orchestra on television. He took special notice of the conductor and began to try to imitate him. “I would stand in front of a mirror and ‘practice’ conducting an orchestra. I would just move my hands up and down as if I was a real conductor,” said Kumi. Conducting is one of the things he loves, yet he doesn’t do it as often as he would like to. “I took a conducting class at Julliard and loved it. I would love to do some more here, as well,” he said.
Of the numerous locations Kumi has performed in, several stand out. “I played at the Milan Conservatory in Italy. It was my first important international performance. I was especially excited because five days before, a famous Russian cellist I admired had played there. It was cool to be able to play at the same place that he did,” said Kumi.
He also performed at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center, as well as five times at Radio City Music Hall in 2005 with Elton John. Kumi had the opportunity to meet the prince of Monaco when he performed in Monte Carlo. Last May, Kumi played at a modern music festival in Beijing, China. “It is where some of the best students of music perform, so I feel very honored to have played there,” he said.
Kumi attributes his success over the years to opportunities presented to him by God. He became a Christian at the age of 20 while still living in Albania. The communist regime had recently fallen and while walking home from school one day, he saw a banner that said, “God Loves Albania.”
“It was the first time I had ever seen or read anything like that because Albania banned religion under communism. I was immediately intrigued,” said Kumi. He approached the missionaries who had put the banner up. “They gave me a copy of the Bible and told me to begin with the book of John. I ended up reading the entire New Testament in just a matter of hours because I was so hungry for truth,” he said.
Kumi joined the evangelical church and became a Christian. “It’s mind-boggling to think that God would bring down an entire [communist] system just so that people like me could come to know Him,” he said.
Kumi began to pray fervently every day that God would give him his own violin. He had used various borrowed violins from schools he attended, even at Julliard. Finally in 2003, he was able to purchase his own personal violin. One day, he decided to glance inside the violin to look at the label, which included the year it was manufactured.
“I was astounded when I saw that the violin had been made in 1991 — the same year I became a Christian and had started praying for one,” said Kumi. “It just goes to show that God hears our prayers. It’s also all about His timing and being in the right place at the right time in order to receive His blessings.”
— Alyssa Applegate is a junior from Dayton, Ohio, majoring in communication arts and minoring in Spanish. Applegate is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.