Sunwook Kim

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, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NHK Symphony, the Hallé and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for his BBC Proms début in Summer 2014. Regular conductor collaborations include Karina Canellakis, Thomas Søndergård, Tugan Sokhiev, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, David Afhkam, Edward Gardner, John Eliot Gardiner, Myung-Whun Chung, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kirill Karabits, Marek Janowski, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Manze, Vassily Sinaisky, Thomas Sanderling and 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 as well as at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Symphony Hall Osaka and Seoul Arts Centre. Kim is also a keen chamber musician and has collaborated with singers such as Robert Holl and Kwangchul Youn.

Highlights among recent concerto engagements include appearances with the Philharmonia, Bournemouth, Dresdner Philharmonie and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestras and a tour of the USA with the Staatskapelle Weimar with Kirill Karabits. Kim 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 2019/2020, Kim returned to the USA for subscription début concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kirill Karabits, as well as touring Asia with the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. He also made his conducting début with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In Europe, he made his début with the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Kristiansand Symfoniorkester, Orquestra Simfònica Illes Balears and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Sunwook Kim’s début 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 Prélude, Choral et Fugue paired with Brahms Sonata No 3, and a further disc of Beethoven’s Sonata No 8 “Pathétique”, Sonata No 14 “Moonlight”, and Sonata No 23 “Appassionata”. His discography also includes two concerto recordings, featuring Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto (2014) which attracted outstanding reviews and awards from BBC Music Magazine and International Classical Music Awards, and Beethoven Concerto No 5 (2013), both on Deutsche Grammophon and with the Seoul Philharmonic, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.

Born in Seoul in 1988, Kim 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 in Germany and the 2005 Clara Haskil Competition in Switzerland. In 2013, he was selected by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn to become the first beneficiary of its new “Mentoring” programme.

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©Marco Borggreve