Gold medalist of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, 29-yearold
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’s 2018-19 season features concerto
performances with Munich Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev in Seoul, Frankfurter
Opern- und Museumsorchester under Sebastian Weigle, Orchestra i Pomeriggi Musicali
under Daniele Callegari, and a European tour with the KBS Symphony. He extensively
tours Japan including Tokyo, Sendai, and Shizuoka. Solo recitals bring him to Houston’s
Society of the Performing Arts, Washington Performing Arts, Texas Performing Arts,
Seattle’s Meany Hall, Portugal’s Casa da Musica, and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. He
also performs chamber music with the New York Philharmonic String Quartet.
Last season, Decca Gold released Cliburn Gold 2017 two weeks after his Cliburn win,
which includes his award-winning performances of Ravel’s La valse and Rachmaninoff’s
Second Piano Sonata.
Born in Anyang, South Korea, Mr. Sunwoo 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 under Marin Alsop, The Juilliard Orchestra with Itzhak
Perlman at Avery Fisher Hall, Houston Symphony Orchestra with James Feddeck, Fort
Worth Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and Nicholas McGegan, National
Orchestra of Belgium, Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National
Orchestra, and others. 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. Last spring, he undertook 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.
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.
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.
A self-proclaimed foodie, Mr. Sunwoo enjoys finding pho in each city he visits and takes
pride in his own homemade Korean soups.