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Pianist Chung Kyu-bin wins Isangyun Competition 2023By Park Ga-young
Published : Nov. 5, 2023 - 15:33
TONGYEONG, South Gyeongsang Province -- A weeklong competition for young pianists ended in Tongyeong Saturday evening with five winners.
At Isangyun Competition 2023, Chung Kyu-bin was announced the first prize winner, beating four other finalists who each performed a piano concerto with the Tongyeong Festival Orchestra led by conductor Samuel Lee. Chung received 30 million won ($23,000) in prize money.
Chung was the second to perform and grace the stage with Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 for 49 minutes.
“I’m not sure if the piece is the best choice for a competition, but I thought I should choose what I like the most,” Chung, who said his favorite composers are Beethoven and Brahms, told The Korea Herald after the award ceremony on Saturday.
“I was really nervous and I’m happy that it’s over. I still have a long journey ahead as a musician. I will continue to learn and remain a musician who always loves music,” the 26-year-old said. Chung studies at University of Music and Performing Arts Munich after graduating from the Korean National University of Arts.
The second prize winner went to Kim Song-hyeon who also took home two more prizes -- the UNESCO Creative City of Music Special Prize decided by audience votes and the Seong-ywang Park Special Prize, awarded by the Kumho Culture Foundation for promising young Korean pianists.
After performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, many in the audience stood up to applaud.
“I burst into tears when I saw that (scene). There were some shortcomings, but it felt like I poured everything I could at that moment, so I just waited with the thought that it doesn't matter how it turns out. So, I'm very grateful for the much better result than I expected,” said Kim, 21.
With the awards, Chung and Kim will be eligible for exemption from mandatory military service, which are given to winners of second place or higher in international art competitions determined by the Commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration.
Sun Youl executed Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26 with virtuosity and grabbed the third prize.
“I chose this piece because I think the virtuosic aspect is one of my strengths. And I am currently studying in Paris, and this piece was composed in Paris. I felt that among Prokofiev's compositions, this one has a rich tonal quality and incorporates quite a few atmospheric elements,” Sun told The Korea Herald when asked about his selection for the final. Sun studies at Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris.
Cheng Jiarui, a Chinese pianist who studies at Michigan State University after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Music, performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58.
“I’m really happy because this is my first time getting into the final in a big international competition,” said Cheng.
Misora Ozaki from Japan received the Isang Yun Special Prize for best interpreting the late composer’s pieces. Ozaki performed Yun’s Funf Stucke fur Klavier (1958) for the first round and Interludium A fur Klavier (1982) for the second round.
The nine-person jury, led by Kim Dae-jin, the president of the Korean National University of Arts, comprises renowned pianists Susumu Aoyagi, Robert Benz, Arthur Greene, Ronan O’Hora, Victoria Postnikova, Antti Siirala, Danwen Wei and Paik Kun-Woo.
Kim Dae-jin told the audience during the award ceremony that "competition is a process to become a genuine musician and not the goal." He said he strongly believes that competitions are "the most important way" for pianists' further development.
Two of the finalists, Kim Song-hyeon and Sun Youl, first competed in the same competition in 2019 which declared Lim Yun-chan as the winner. Lim later became the youngest person ever to win gold at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2022.
The competition, organized by the Tongyeong International Music Foundation, was launched in 2003 in remembrance of the renowned Korea-born composer Yun I-sang (1917-1995). Three disciplines -- piano, violin and cello -- alternate each year. Applicants have to be aged between 15 and 31.
The competition part took place from Oct. 28 to Saturday at the late composer's hometown Tongyeong, where the annual Tongyeong International Musical Festival is held. To close the event, the winners’ concert took place Sunday at the Seoul Arts Center.
This year saw a record-breaking attendance with 183 participants hailing from 26 different countries, according to the organizer.
The next competition will be held in the discipline of violin in 2024.
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