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Lee Hyuk makes Chopin Competition finals

Pianist Lee Hyuk (Kumho Cultural Art Foundation)
Pianist Lee Hyuk (Kumho Cultural Art Foundation)


Korean pianist Lee Hyuk, 21, is among the12 finalists of the 18th Chopin International Piano Competition, taking place in Warsaw, Poland.

The Chopin Competition, organized by the Polish Chopin Institute, had its first edition in 1927. Previous winners of the prestigious competition for musicians include big names in classical music, such as Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman. In 2015, pianist Cho Seong-jin rose became the first Korean winner of the competition and rose to stardom.

The competition, held every five years, was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first postponement for the competition since World War II.

The main competition has been taking place at the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall since earlier this month, with the 87 contenders who passed the preliminary round participating. Through three rounds, the contenders have been narrowed down to 12 finalists.

While 14 Korean pianists made it to the preliminary round and seven to the main competition, Lee is the only Korean to have made it to the finals.

Lee studied violin and piano from the age of 3. He has been studying with Vladimir Ovchinnikov at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory since he was 16.

Lee made his debut at the Kumho Prodigy Concert in 2012. He won the Hamamatsu Piano Competition in 2018, the Ignacy Jan Paderewski International Piano Competition in 2016 and both the first prize and the concert prize at the Moscow Chopin Competition for Young Pianists in 2012.

For the final round taking place from Monday to Wednesday, each pianist will play one of Chopin’s two piano concertos. The performances will be livestreamed through YouTube and the Chopin Competition mobile app.

The jury will announce the winners, including the first prize winner who will receive the gold medal and the cash prize of 40,000 euros ($46,401), on the final day of the competition on Wednesday. The competition will recognize winners for up to six main prizes along with special awards.

Meanwhile, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will hold a concert with the first prize winner of the competition on Nov. 27 at the Seoul Arts Center. Associate Conductor Wilson Ng will take the baton and the winner will perform one of Chopin’s two piano concertos.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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