The Korea Herald


Violinist Yang In-mo becomes first Korean to win Sibelius competition

By Park Ga-young

Published : May 30, 2022 - 14:19

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Violinist Yang In-mo performs at the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland, Friday. (Heikki Tuuli) Violinist Yang In-mo performs at the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland, Friday. (Heikki Tuuli)

Violinist Yang In-mo became the first South Korean to win the top prize at the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition on Sunday, yet another crowning achievement for the Paganini competition winner.

The top honor came with a cash prize of 30,000 euros ($32,000) and a loan of a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin made in 1772. In addition, the Sibelius family awarded Yang a prize of 2,000 euros for the best performance of Magnus Lindberg’s “Caprice.”

“I’m happy to have good results, as I’ve done my best,” Yang said in a statement via his management company Credia on Monday. “There was no holding each other in check among the participants. All contestants learned from each other, which made me feel the charm of a competition again.”

The 26-year-old musician competed with five other finalists in the last round that consisted of two concerts. Yang performed Carl Nielsen‘s Violin Concerto, Op. 33 with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday and the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 with the Finnish Radio Orchestra on Sunday.

Nathan Meltzer from the US won second place while Dmytro Udovychenko from Ukraine won third.

Yang grabbed international attention when he won first prize at the Paganini Competition in 2015, becoming the first Korean to do so. It was also the first time that the competition had named a first prize winner in nine years, after not doing so for two previous editions.

Before Yang, another Korean violinist, Shin Hyun-su, finished third in the 2005 edition of the Sibelius competition. The competition, which takes place once every five years, was founded in 1965 for young violinists under the age of 30. Previous first prize winners include world-class violinists such as Viktoria Mullova (1980), Leonidas Kavakos (1985), Sergei Khachatryan (2000) and Alina Pogostkina (2005).

The 12th edition of the competition was originally scheduled for 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of a record number of 240 applicants from 16 countries, 49 were selected to participate in the competition held in Helsinki, Finland, from May 19 to May 29.

An artist-in-residence at Busan Philharmonic Orchestra for 2022, Yang will next perform with the orchestra in Busan in November.

Yang is also scheduled to give a matinee concert Oct. 26 in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.

Yang is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin.