Yekwon Sunwoo Gold medalist of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, 29-year-old pianist Yekwon Sunwoo has been hailed for his “unfailingly consistent excellence” (International Piano) and celebrated as “a pianist who commands a comprehensive technical arsenal that allows him to thunder without breaking a sweat” (Chicago Tribune). A powerful and virtuosic performer, he also, in his own words, “strives to reach for the truth and pure beauty in music.”
The first Korean to win Cliburn gold, Mr. Sunwoo was born in Anyang, South Korea and gave both his recital and orchestra debuts in 2004 in Seoul. In previous seasons, Mr. Sunwoo has performed as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Juilliard Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, Munich Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and others; and he has performed a nine-city tour of the United States with the National Orchestra of Cuba.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Sunwoo’s partners have included the Jerusalem and Brentano String Quartets, violinists Benjamin Beilman and Ida Kafavian, cellists Edgar Moreau, Gary Hoffman, and Peter Wiley, and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. He has toured Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama with the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation, performed for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Inside Chamber Music Lectures, and been invited to the Summit Music, Bowdoin International, and Toronto Summer Music Festivals. He has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in Tokyo, Radio France and Salle Cortot in Paris, Kumho Art Hall in Seoul, and throughout South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Prague, and Morocco, among other countries. He has also performed at prominent music festivals including the Aspen, Grand Teton, and Duszniki International Music Festivals.
Mr. Sunwoo began learning piano at age 8. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music, master’s degree at The Juilliard School, and artist diploma at the Mannes School of Music studying with Seymour Lipkin, Robert McDonald, and Richard Goode, respectively. He currently studies with Bernd Goetzke at Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. Mr. Sunwoo credits each teacher for their guidance in his artistic development and approach.
In addition to the Cliburn gold medal, Mr. Sunwoo has won first prizes at the 2015 International German Piano Award in Frankfurt, the 2014 Vendome Prize held at the Verbier Festival, the 2013 Sendai International Music Competition and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition.
A self-proclaimed foodie, Mr. Sunwoo enjoys finding pho in each city he visits and takes pride in his own homemade Korean soups. [Photo by Jeremy Enlow]