Fort Worth — South Korean pianist Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, has won the Gold Medal in the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Americans Kenneth Broberg, 23, and Daniel Hsu, 19, took the Silver and Bronze medals, respectively. The three other finalists were Rachel Cheung of Hong Kong, and Russians Yury Favorin and Georgy Tchaidze.
Sunwoo and Favorin were two of four competitors in the 2017 competition who were also in the 2013 Cliburn.
TheaterJones critic Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, who reviewed all 86 performances in the competition, said of Sunwoo’s final performance of Dvořák’s Piano Quartet in A-Major (performed with the Brentano String Quartet): “It was a marvelous performance, deeply felt, intelligently played, and true to Dvořák’s spirit.”
Sunwoo trained at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. In addition to competing in the 2013 Cliburn, he has won awards at the 2015 International German Piano Award (First Prize), the 2014 Vendome Prize (First Prize), the 2013 Sendai International Music Competition (First Prize), and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition (First Prize, Audience Award, Chamber Award).
Sunwoo wins $50,000, a management contract and other perks, including website, PR, a recording contract and a performance wardrobe from Neiman Marcus. Silver medalist Broberg receives $25,000, and Bronze medalist Hsu picks up $15,000. Second and third prizes also receive perks like management and recording contracts. The three non-medalists each receive $10,000.
Hsu won several other awards, for best chamber music performance ($6,000) and for the best performance of a new work, for Marc-André Hamelin’s Toccata on “L’homme armé,” which all 30 pianists played in the preliminary rounds. (Our review of his preliminary performance is here.) Rachel Cheung won the audience award, taking $2,500.
The Cliburn had an astounding 4.5 million viewers in 169 countries watching via the video streaming, provided by medici.tv. You can watch all performances and the awards on their site.
Below is the Cliburn news release with all the winners and their prizes:
After 17 days of exceptional music–making at Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition announced its winners from the stage on Saturday evening.
The winner of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal and the Van Cliburn Winner’s Cup is Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, South Korea.
The silver medalist is Kenneth Broberg, 23, United States.
The bronze medalist is Daniel Hsu, 19, United States.
Yekwon Sunwoo, the gold medalist, will receive a cash award of $50,000; three years of individualized career management, including U.S. concert tours and, in association with Keynote Artist Management, international concert tours and comprehensive career mentorship program; live recording and recording partnership with Universal Music Group's Decca Gold label; promotional package including press kits, videos, website; and performance attire provided by Neiman Marcus.
Kenneth Broberg, the silver medalist, will receive a cash award of $25,000; three years of individualized career management, including U.S. concert tours; live recordings released by Universal Music Group’s Decca Gold label; and a promotional package including press kits, videos, and website.
Daniel Hsu, the bronze medalist,will receive a cash award of $15,000; three years of individualized career management, including U.S. concert tours; live recordings released by Universal Music Group’s Decca Gold label; and a promotional package including press kits, videos, and website.
The remaining three finalists will receive cash awards of $10,000 each, and promotional packages including press kits, videos, and website. They are Rachel Cheung, 25, Hong Kong; Yuri Favorin, 30, Russia; and Georgy Tchaidze, 29, Russia.
The Steven de Groote Memorial Award for the Best Performance of Chamber Music, with a cash prize of $6,000, was awarded to Daniel Hsu, 19, United States.
The Beverley Taylor Smith Award for the Best Performance of a New Work, with a cash prize of $5,000, was awarded to Daniel Hsu, 19, United States.
The winner of the John Giordano Jury Chairman Discretionary Award, with a cash prize of $4,000, is Dasol Kim, 28, South Korea.
The winner of the Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award, with a cash prize of $4,000, is Leonardo Pierdomenico, 24, Italy.
The winner of the Jury Discretionary Award, with a cash prize of $4,000, is Tony Yike Yang, 18, Canada.
The semifinalists will receive cash awards of $5,000 each.
The quarterfinalists will receive cash awards of $2,500 each.
Preliminary Round competitors will receive cash awards of $1,000 each.
Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, South Korea
Yekwon Sunwoo earned his bachelor’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music and his master’s at The Juilliard School, and also studied with Richard Goode at the Mannes School of Music. He currently studies under Bernd Goetzke in Hannover. Mr. Sunwoo 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. He has performed with the Juilliard Orchestra under Itzhak Perlman at Avery Fisher Hall, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop, Houston Symphony Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, and others. He has given recitals at Carnegie Hall, Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in Tokyo, Wigmore Hall in London, Radio France and Salle Cortot in Paris, and Kumho Art Hall in Seoul. Mr. Sunwoo has been featured on WQXR’s McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase, and has performed chamber music for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with Ida Kavafian and Peter Wiley as part of Curtis On Tour, and with Roberto Diaz on the Bay Chamber Concerts.
Kenneth Broberg, 23, United States
A native of Minneapolis, Kenneth Broberg studied piano from age 6 through high school under Dr. Joseph Zins. He continued his studies with Nancy Weems at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree. He is now a graduate student working with 2001 Cliburn gold medalist Stanislav Ioudenitch at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. Mr. Broberg has won first prizes at the Hastings and Dallas international piano competitions, in addition to medals at the Sydney, Seattle, New Orleans, and Wideman (Shreveport) competitions. Several of his performances at last year’s Sydney International Piano Competition were released on CD on the Universal Music label. He has performed as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Chamber Symphony, and the Louisiana Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Broberg has had solo, chamber, and concerto performances broadcast on NPR and ABC (Australia) radio. His passions include hockey, baseball, books, and movies.
Daniel Hsu, 19, United States
A native of the San Francisco Bay area, Daniel Hsu began piano studies with Larisa Kagan at 6. He was accepted at age 10 to the Curtis Institute of Music, where he is the Richard A. Doran Fellow and studies with Gary Graffman and Eleanor Sokoloff. In 2016, Mr. Hsu was named a Gilmore Young Artist and won the bronze medal at the 9th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition. As first-prize winner of the 2015 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, Mr. Hsu made his Carnegie Hall debut in April 2017. He made his solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in June 2016, and concerto appearances this season include concerts with the Grand Rapids Symphony, New Haven Symphony, and Symphonia Boca Raton. His notable recitals include appearances at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Concert Series; and Merkin Concert Hall’s Tuesday matinee series in New York. Mr. Hsu also is a film buff and enjoys computer programming. He contributed to the creation of the Workflow productivity app, which won a 2015 Apple Design Award and has improved the experience of mobile devices for visually impaired users.