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[Herald Interview] Long-Thibaud winners to stage duo recital

Pianist Lim, violinist Shin to play Saraste, Brahms and Ravel together

Pianist Lim Dong-hyek and violinist Shin Hyun-su, the only two Koreans to have topped the prestigious Long-Thibaud International Competition, will stage a flamboyant duo recital as part of the upcoming classical chamber music summer event, Ditto Festival.

The triennial competition aims to discover talents in piano and violin and the then 17-year-old Lim and 21-year-old Shin won the French competition in 2001 and 2008, respectively.

Lim and Shin said in separate interviews that their duo concert will be flamboyant and spectacular.

They discussed the program together and decided to stage Lim’s solos of Chopin’s “Nocturne” and “Polonaise” first, followed by the duo on Sarasate’s “Faust Fantasy” and Lim’s solo on Prokofiev’s “Toccata.” After intermission, the two will perform a Brahms scherzo and a Ravel violin sonata.
Pianist Lim Dong-hyek (Credia/Koo Bon-chang)
Pianist Lim Dong-hyek (Credia/Koo Bon-chang)

“To meet the diverse needs of the audience, the program includes some of my solos. Since it’s a music festival, I tried to pick pieces that are rich in emotions,” Lim told The Korea Herald by phone. The 27-year-old is based in New York, since graduating from the Julliard School in 2009 where he studied under pianist Emmanuel Ax.

“In general, it’s a spectacular program. Prokofiev’s ‘Toccata’ is really and flamboyant, but for me, it takes a lot of energy and stamina. Chopin’s ‘Nocturne’ explodes at the end. It’s going to be fun,” he said.

Shin said she would focus more on the Ravel performance and was confident that she and Lim will create a good collaboration.

“We have played together several times, including at the Beppu Argerich Music Festival in Japan last year. Once Lim visits Seoul late this month, we will practice together,” said Shin, who currently studies at the Korea National University of Arts.
Violinist Shin Hyun-su (Credia)
Violinist Shin Hyun-su (Credia)

The 24-year-old has been spending a busy year. She has been touring Japan, China and Taiwan.

Through many concert tours around Asia, Shin realized that Korean audience’s interest in classical music is much stronger than those in other Asian countries.

“In Korea, varied age groups enjoy classical music. I’m still young, but I can feel that the audience of classical music is broadening fast.”

Lim agreed with Shin, saying his fans have become more diverse than six or seven years ago when his fans were all teenage girls. Lim’s online fan caf on Naver has more than 37,000 members who upload photos and video clips of Lim’s performances.

Born in 1984 in Seoul, Lim began playing the piano aged 7 and moved to Russia at 10 to study at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, following his older brother Lim Dong-min’s foot step. Dong-min is also an internationally-acclaimed pianist.

Lim became the youngest pianist in history to have a recording contract with EMI Classics.

Asked whether he has any plan to perform with his older brother, Lim said his music style was too different from that of his brother.

“My brother? He’s got his own life and our music styles don’t really match. But there will come some day when we can play together,” Lim said.

Ditto Festival, led by all-male chamber ensemble Ditto, is an annual summer music festival where rising classical musicians perform and broaden the appeal of chamber music among the public. This year, it will take place from June 22 to July 3 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall and Hoam Art Hall.

Lim and Shin’s concert is scheduled on July 3 at 2 p.m. at the SAC. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call 1577-5266 or visit

By Kim Yoon-mi (