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Pianist Sohn Min-soo to join New England Conservatory

Pianist and K-Arts professor Sohn Min-soo speaks during a press conference on June 30. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)
Pianist and K-Arts professor Sohn Min-soo speaks during a press conference on June 30. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Sohn Min-soo, a professor and pianist, will join his alma mater, the New England Conservatory, as part of its piano faculty starting in fall 2023, the Boston-based music school announced last week. That means he will leave his current post at Korea National University of Arts, known as K-Arts, where the 45-year-old has been teaching pupils since March 2015. One of his students, Lim Yun-chan, at K-Arts became the youngest winner in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition’s history in June this year.

At the age of 18, Sohn went to NEC and studied with pianists Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun until 2004. Sohn said that he considers these two instructors the teachers of his lifetime.

“I am eternally indebted to my masters for opening my eyes to a world still unfathomable. They have instilled within me a love and courage to follow my bliss. I am very much looking forward to carrying that torch at NEC,” he said, according to NEC’s statement on its website.

Before moving to Boston, he studied under Kim Dae-jin, the incumbent president of K-Arts.

“This shows not only K-Arts students, but also its teachers are now being recognized overseas. It is unfortunate for the school but it’s about going to a bigger stage and enhancing the competitiveness of the school as well as the nation,” Kim said on Wednesday.

After Lim’s sensational win at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Sohn has been recognized for being the teacher behind such a brilliant pianist, but he is also an award-winning pianist in his own right, having won the first prize of the Honens Competition in 2006 and third prize at the Busoni Competition in 1999.

With Sohn's career-altering decision to move to Boston, questions have been raised regarding his student Lim's next steps as well.

MOC Production, which manages both Sohn and Lim, told The Korea Herald on Wednesday that whether or not Lim would join when Sohn moves to Boston has not been decided. Sohn has been teaching Lim since he was 12 years old.

When asked about his next step right after his most notable win, Lim mentioned that studying abroad could be in the cards for him. “But before I make that decision, as he's been a great influence I’ll discuss the possibility with my teacher first.”

Lim recently signed with the global classical music management company IMG Artists and is expected to be engaged in more overseas performances.

By Park Ga-young (