The Warsaw Voice » Politics » Monthly - November 3, 2015
In Brief
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South Korean Pianist Wins Chopin Competition
Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea won the 17th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, taking home the top prize of 30,000 euros.

Cho, 21, also received 3,000 euros from the Warsaw-based Frederic Chopin Society for best performance of a polonaise at this year’s competition.

In his first interview after the winners were announced, the young Korean pianist said he had decided to become a professional pianist when he watched the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition as a child in 2005. The winner that year was Poland’s Rafał Blechacz, whom Cho has since regarded as his musical role model.

Cho is an internationally accomplished pianist. In 2009, he won a prestigious piano competition in Hamamatsu, Japan, and two years later took home the bronze medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Last year, he came in third at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

The Warsaw Chopin Competition’s second prize of 25,000 euros and the silver medal went to 26-year-old Charles Richard-Hamelin from Canada. His rendition of a sonata also won him a prize of 10,000 euros funded by Krystian Zimerman, the 1975 Chopin Competition winner.

The bronze medal and a prize of 20,000 euros went to 21-year-old Kate Liu, a Singapore-born pianist from the United States. She also received 5,000 euros from Poland’s public radio broadcaster Polskie Radio for best mazurka performance.

Seventeen-year-old Eric Lu from the United States came in fourth and walked away with a prize of 15,000 euros, while Yike Yang from Canada, aged 16, finished fifth with 10,000 euros. Dmitri Shishkin from Russia came in sixth and pocketed 7,000 euros. The remaining four of the competition’s 10 finalists, including Poland’s Szymon Nehring, each received honorable mentions and 4,000 euros. Nehring additionally won the audience choice award.

Cho is the third Asian winner in the Chopin Competition’s history since 1927 after Vietnam’s Dang Thai Son in 1980 and China’s Yundi Li in 2000. Both were among the judges at this year’s competition.

Held every five years, the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition took place Oct. 1-23 this year with 78 contestants in the first round. Forty pianists qualified for the second round and 20 for the third. In addition to public television and radio, this year’s auditions were for the first time broadcast live via the internet, earning the event a huge global audience. According to the organizers, more than 5 million viewers followed the competition online.

Cho Oct. 25 embarked on a concert tour of Europe and Asia funded by the Frederic Chopin Institute in Warsaw. The tour will continue until February next year and will be followed by a live album in November. Like every five years, the album will be released on the Deutsche Grammophon label.