Stanford senior takes the Bing stage

April 24, 2014, 11:59 p.m.
Courtesy of Kai Kight.
Courtesy of Kai Kight.

Following on the heels of Kai Kight ‘14’s recent performance at Bing Concert Hall, The Daily sat down with the senior product design major to talk about his music, his inspirations and the broader impact his work offers.

Kight has been playing violin since the age of three, but he still finds new elements in his music on a daily basis. That’s because, in the past few years, he has started writing his own compositions. And almost every time he comes back to them, he finds something new.

“I feel like it’s a constant development of ideas,” Kight explained. “It’s very difficult for me to say something is finished because I feel like where a composition is… is just a point in time or a certain mindset that you were in.”

Those mindsets may change, or new ideas may strike him as he plays in new settings. He will also revise pieces for new venues, like the music he just played while opening for the Aeolus String Quartet at Bing Concert Hall on April 6.

So what are the ideas he’s developing? Kight takes his inspiration from two primary – and quite contrasting – sources: Bach and contemporary popular music. Since he composes primarily for the solo violin, he works to achieve a fuller sound by taking inspiration from Bach.

“He did so much on the violin that wasn’t done before, like four part harmony on one instrument,” Kight emphasized, noting that he strives to incorporate those harmonies into his own compositions.

Kight is interested, however, in keeping his music innovative by combining Bach-like harmonies with rhythms he takes from electronic music or dubstep. The two don’t seem like an intuitive combination, but that may be exactly why it works so well. His performances are certainly in demand – he’s performed at Bing Concert Hall, TEDxStanford and Stanford+Connects, and is eager to do more.

For his senior project, Kight has sought to combine speech with his music to  “to inspire people to think differently about the world we’re living in or the project they’re working on.” He wants to give presentations for enterprises, teaching them ideas about creativity and leadership.

“Essentially, I’d be turning music into insights,” he explained as he described his vision for the project.

His speech at Stanford+Connects elaborated further on the type of insights he aims to open up to people.

“Innovation happens at intersections,” he began. “There’s a creative power that comes from taking two seemingly disconnected worlds and bringing them together to create something new. “

Though making his music or writing his speeches isn’t always easy, Kight said that he enjoys it even when he struggles to make it perfect.

“I feel like if you enjoy struggling with something, that’s what you should do,” he explained, arguing that the hobbies we’ve always loved can often manifest themselves in exciting new creations.

Kight encouraged Stanford students to really investigate the areas they’re passionate about. While Stanford may be an intimidating place, he said that he aims to “try to get people to re-think the lanes that have been provided for them.”

If you don’t know where to start? It isn’t so hard, according to Kight.

“Try thinking about it in a different way,” he said. “You have all these resources… what are you passionate about?”


Watch Kai’s performances at TEDxStanford and at Stanford+Connects, or follow his YouTube channel.

Contact Noemi Berkowitz at noemi11 “at”

Noemi Berkowitz is the Chief Theater Critic and a desk editor at The Stanford Daily. She is a junior from Lincoln, Nebraska, double majoring in theater and psychology. You may see her reciting Shakespeare, wearing tie-dye and hiking. Contact her at noemi11 'at'

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