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Composer Chin Un-suk wins Sibelius Prize

Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s composer-in-residence Chin Un-suk has won the prestigious Wihuri Sibelius International Prize, the orchestra said Tuesday.

Established in 1953 by the Finland-based Wihuri Foundation for International Prizes, the Sibelius Prize, one of the highest recognitions in classical music composition, is awarded when a suitable recipient has been found. Chin, the first Asian winner of the prize, is the 20th winner. The prize carries a cash award of 150,000 euros ($177,130).

The awards ceremony held at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday featured Chin’s song cycle “snagS&Snarls” performed by soprano Helena Juntunen and the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hann Lintu.

Composer Chin Un-suk (SPO)
Composer Chin Un-suk (SPO)
Chin is one of the most prominent composers today and is winner of the 2004 Grawemeyer Award, the Arnold Schonberg Prize in 2005, the Music Composition Prize of the Prince Pierre Foundation in 2010 and the 2012 Ho-Am Prize, among others. She is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes.

Named after the first recipient of the prize, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, the list of winners includes such luminaries as Dmitri Schostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten, Olivier Messiaen and Aulis Sallinen. The previous prize given in 2015 went to the British composer Harrison Birtwistle.

“The list of past recipients is so monumental that I don’t know if I should be included. I hope to strive harder so that anyone seeing my name on the list sometime in the future would think that it was only natural,” said Chin in a statement released through the SPO.

Chin, who has been serving as the SPO composer-in-residence since 2006 and artistic adviser since 2016, returns to the Seoul stage with the contemporary classical music concert series “Ars Nova” on Nov. 3 and 8.

Chin’s “Choros Chordon” commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic will have its world premiere at the Berliner Philharmonie in Berlin, Germany, on Nov. 3. The Korean premiere will be performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Simon Rattle on Nov. 20.

By Kim Hoo-ran (
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Korea Herald daum