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 Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, 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, City of Birmingham Symphony and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for his BBC Proms debut in Summer 2014. Conductor collaborations include with Jakub Hrusa, Karina Canellakis, Nathalie Stutzmann, Thomas Sondergard, Tugan Sokhiev, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, David Afkham, Edward Gardner, John Elliot Gardiner, Myung-Whun Chung, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kirill Karabits, Marek Janowski, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Manze, Vassily Sinaisky, Michael 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 Colon 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.

Recent concerto highlights include collaborations with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Tianyi Lu), London Symphony Orchestra (Michael Tilson Thomas), Chamber Orchestra of Europe to tour South Korea as well as to the Seoul Philharmonic in their tour of Europe (Concertgebouw, Cadogan Hall). Other performances included with the Pannon Philharmonic, Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra and Bamberger Symphoniker. Sunwook also returned to Bournemouth Symphony both as soloist (Karabits) and to conduct Dvorak’s Cello Concerto alongside Brahms Symphony No. 2. Sunwook’s return to the Bournemouth Symphony as conductor follows his instant success having made his play-direct debut with the orchestra and international conducting debut with the KBS Symphony only last season. In August 2022, Sunwook also had the honour to conduct the Seoul Philharmonic in their National Liberation Day Concert marking the 77th anniversary of Korea’s National Liberation Day and in December 2022 returned to conduct three performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9. Further conducting debuts included with the Fundación Excelentia Madrid and Macao Orchestra.

In the 2023/24 season, Sunwook will make his debut with Atlanta Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Gävle Symfoniorkester as well as his conducting debuts with the National Symphony Orchestra Taiwan, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra (Budapest), Georges Enescu Philharmonic and Filharmonia Śląska (Poland). Sunwook will also return to conduct the Seoul Philharmonic and Bournemouth Symphony and as soloist with BBC Philharmonic. In September 2023, Sunwook was announced as the next Music Director of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra for an initial term until December 2025.

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. He has released further recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, Sonata No. 8; Pathetique, Sonata No. 14; Moonlight and Sonata No. 23; Appassionata as well as sonatas No. 30-32 and his most recent chamber music release features the Violin Sonatas of Beethoven in collaboration with Clara-Jumi Kang. His discography also includes multiple concerto recordings; on Accentus Music with the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Myung-Whun Chung featuring Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 1 (2019) and Six Piano Pieces (2020) in addition to recordings on Deutsche Grammophon 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.

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©Marco Borggreve