Sunwook Kim came to international recognition when he won the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, aged just 18, becoming the competition’s youngest winner for 40 years, as well as its first Asian winner.
Since then, he has established a reputation as one of the finest pianists of his generation, appearing as a concerto soloist in the subscription series of some of the world’s leading orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Hamburg Symphoniker, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Finnish Radio Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Orchestra of Wales, Radio-France Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Hallé Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for his BBC Proms debut in Summer 2014. Regular conductor collaborations include with Karina Canellakis, Thomas Sondergard, Tugan Sokhiev, Daniel Harding, Paavo Jarvi, David Afhkam, Edward Gardner, John Elliot-Gardiner, Myung-Whun Chung, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kirill Karabits, Marek Janowski, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Manze, Vassily Sinaisky, Paavo Järvi, Thomas Sanderling and Sir Mark Elder.
Recital highlights to date include regular appearances at the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall (London International Piano Series), in the ‘Piano 4 Etoiles’ series at the Philharmonie de Paris and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Piano aux Jacobin Festival, AIX Festival, La Roque d’Antheron International Piano Festival (France) as well as at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Symphony Hall Osaka and Seoul Arts Centre. Sunwook is also a keen chamber musician and has collaborated with singers such as Robert Holl and Kwang-Chul Youn.
Highlights among recent concerto engagements include appearances with the Philharmonia, Bournemouth, Dresdner Philharmonie and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestras and a tour of the United States with the Staatskapelle Weimar with Kirill Karabits. Sunwook also made his US orchestra debut with the Milwaukee Symphony orchestra and in Europe with the Orchestre National de Belgique and at the Bergen International Festival performing Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto with the Bergen Philharmonic conducted by Edward Gardner.
In 19/20 Sunwook will return to the USA for subscription debut concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kirill Karabits as well as touring Asia with the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. Sunwook will also make his conducting debut with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In Europe, Sunwook will also debut with the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Kristiansand Symfoniorkester, Orquestra Simfonica de Balears and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Sunwook Kim’s debut recital disc was released on the Accentus label in October 2015, featuring Beethoven’s Waldstein and Hammerklavier sonatas. This was followed by a recording of Franck’s Prelude, choral et fugue paired with Brahms Sonata No.3 and a further disc of Beethoven; Sonata No. 8; Pathetique, Sonata No. 14; Moonlight and Sonata No. 23; Appassionata. His discography also includes two concerto recordings, both on Deutsche Grammophon and with the Seoul Philharmonic conducted by Myung-Whun Chung: a CD featuring Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto (2014) which attracted outstanding reviews and awards from BBC Music Magazine and International Classical Music Awards, and a CD featuring Beethoven Concerto No.5 (2013).
Born in Seoul in 1988, Sunwook completed an MA in conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and was subsequently made a fellow (FRAM) of the Royal Academy of Music in 2019. Besides Leeds, international awards include the first prize at the 2004 Ettlingen Competition (Germany) and the 2005 Clara Haskil Competition (Switzerland). In 2013, Sunwook was selected by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn to become the first beneficiary of its new Mentoring.
Sunwook Kim is represented by Askonas Holt.
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Last update: July 2019
The swell of suspended harmonies was perfectly controlled, the chords perfectly struck and voiced, and Kim always kept the sense of restless searching at just the right level of intensityDUNDEE COURIER