Sunwoo Ye-kwon competes in the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday.
Sunwoo Ye-kwon on Saturday won the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, the first Korean to win the prestigious prize.
He won the prize money of US$50,000 and three years of professional management, which includes an opportunity to make a studio recording and tour the U.S33.
Sunwoo is the second Korean to win one of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions after prodigy Cho Seong-Jin Won the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in 2015.
Sunwoo won over the judges and audience with Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30 and his part in Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A Major, op. 81. His energetic performance of the concerto earned a standing ovation.
Sunwoo studies under Bernd Goetzke at Hanover University of Music and Drama in Germany.
Sunwoo Ye-kwon (center) poses with the trophy after winning the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday.
The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition honors American pianist Van Cliburn (1934-2013), who enjoyed pop-star status after winning the inaugural Tchaikovsky Competition in the Soviet Union in 1958. It has been held since 1962 in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, every four years.
This year’s competition saw a new collaboration with British management company Keynote Artist Management to help winners launch their career in Europe.
Tickets to Sunwoo’s recital in Seoul on Dec. 20 sold out at the news of his victory.
One other Korean has previously distinguished herself in the contest, with Son Yeol-eum winning second place in 2009. Past winners include legendary pianist Radu Lupu, who triumphed in 1966.