Lim Ji-young, 20, took home the grand prize of the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, which comes with a cash prize of 25,000 euros ($27,300) and a four-year loan of the “Huggins” Stradivarius violin, made in 1708 by the master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, the organizers said Saturday.
A student at the Korea National University of Arts in Seoul, Lim is the first Korean violinist ever to win the highest honor at the competition.
“I never expected to win a prize. It feels unreal (that I am the grand prize winner),” Lim was quoted by Yonhap as saying after the announcement.
“I am proud of the fact that three Koreans made it to the final round.”
At this year’s contest, which was devoted to violin, 69 players of 20 different nationalities, 17 of them from Korea, were selected to take part in the public rounds of the competition. Twelve of them, including Lim and two other Koreans, advanced to the final round.
In Korea, where a vast majority of classical musicians who have achieved some sizable success had studied abroad, Lim is locally trained, most recently under tutorage of professor Kim Nam-yun of the KNUA.
The Queen Elisabeth contest, one of the classical music world’s big three competitions, rotates between violin, piano and voice. Next year will be the piano.
No Korean had won the top prize in the violin competition before, but Zia Hyunsu Shin in 2012 took home the third prize and Kim Su-yeon came in fourth place in 2009.
In the voice competition, however, Korean sopranos won the grand prize twice in a row: Hong Hae-ran in 2011 and Hwang Su-mi last year.
For Lim, Saturday’s award caps a series of international accolades she has received in the past years, including the first prize at the Euroasia International Competition in Japan and the MIMC Prize at the Montreal International Musical Competition. Last year, she was a laureate of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, winning the Mozart special prize.
The violinist made her local debut at age 14 as part of the Kumho prodigy program. She is scheduled to perform at Kumho Art Hall in Seoul on Aug. 31.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)