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 a highly acclaimed debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne, Orchestre National de Blegique, and return appearances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony and Dresdner Philharmonie. He also went on tour in Asia with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Myung-Whun Chung, in the United States with the Staatskapelle Weimar and Kirill Karabits, and in Europe with the Seoul Philharmonic.
In 20/21 Sunwook is looking forward to debut concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Alan Gilbert, Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Shi-Yeon Sung, Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vanska, as well as touring in Asia with the Chamber Orchestre of Europe conducted by Kirill Karabits. Other highlights include return engagements with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hamburger Symphoniker, and the Insula Orchestra in Paris, conducted by Laurene Equilbey.
Sunwook is also a trained conductor, and was due to make his conducting debut in the 19/20 season, in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s subscription series. The project was one of the victims of the COVID pandemic, but it will be re-scheduled to a future season.
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). His most recent release (September 2020, Accentus) features Brahms Concerto No.1 with the Staatskapelle Dresden, also conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.
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.
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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