Sunwook Kim

Biography

London-based 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. His performance of Brahms’s Concerto No.1 with the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder in the competition’s finals attracted unanimous praise from the press.

Future highlights include recitals at the International Piano Series in London (Queen Elizabeth Hall), the City of London Festival, at Salle Pleyel’s prestigious “Piano 4 Etoiles” series in Paris, in Aix-en-Provence, and at the Seoul Arts Centre. As a concerto soloist, he will give the German premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto with the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, and will appear for return projects with the London Symphony Orchestra (Prokofiev 2 with Daniel Harding), the Philharmonia Orchestra (Mozart K491 with Edward Gardner), the RTSI Orchestra in Lugano (Beethoven 3 with Vladimir Ashkenazy), the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Kiril Karabits), as well as on tour in Europe and the United States with the Seoul Philharmonic and Myung-Whun Chung.

 Sunwook Kim has just recorded Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic and Myung-Whun Chung, due for release on Deutsche Grammophon later this year.

 Sunwook’s year 2013 was packed with exciting developments, including acclaimed debuts at the BBC Proms (Beethoven 3 with Bournemouth Symphony / Kiril Karabits), with the London Symphony Orchestra (Beethoven 4 with Sir John Eliot Gardiner), a world premiere performance of Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto at a festival dedicated to the composer at the Konserthuset Stockholm, return projects with the Helsinki Radio Symphony (Beethoven 4 with Andrew Manze), the Philharmonia Orchestra (Beethoven 4 with Juraj Valcuha), the Seoul Philharmonic (Beethoven 5 with Myung-Whun Chung), as well as recitals at Salle Pleyel in Paris, to a sold-out house at Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and on tour in Japan. He also completed a widely praised complete Beethoven sonata cycle at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul, and his debut recording, featuring Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, was released on Deutsche Grammophon.

Sunwook Kim is also a keen chamber musician. Future plans include two Schubert concerts at Salle Pleyel with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, a trio tour in Asia with Jian Wang and Mayuko Kamio, and a piano quartet project with Nobuko Imai.

 Over the years, Sunwook Kim has appeared as a concerto soloist in the subscription series of some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras: the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Chung), Philharmonia Orchestra (Ashkenazy), Berlin Radio Symphony (Janowski), London Philharmonic (Sinaisky), Radio-France Philharmonic (Chung), Tokyo Philharmonic (Chung), NHK Symphony (Steffens), BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, and the Aspen Festival Orchestra.

 Recitals to date include the Wigmore Hall in London, regular appearances in the “Piano 4 Etoiles” series at Salle Pleyel in Paris, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Symphony Hall Osaka, Brussels Klara Festival, Brussels Summer Festival, Beethoven-Haus and Beethovenfest in Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele, the Dinard Festival in France, the London and Vancouver Chopin Societies, New York’s International Keyboard Institute, the New Ross International Piano Festival in Ireland, the Duszniki Zdrój International Chopin Festival in Poland as well as the Tongyeong International Music Festival and Kumho Rising Stars Series in Korea.

 Born in Seoul in 1988, Sunwook Kim began the piano at the age of 3. He gave his debut recital aged just 10 at the Kumho Prodigy Series in Seoul, and this was followed by his concerto debut two years later.

 Sunwook Kim graduated from the Korean National University of Arts in February 2008, and then completed an MA in conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. 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 Programme, a status which grants him exclusive access to the house’s unique collections and resources. 

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News & Features

Repertoire

BARTOK
Concerto No 3

BEETHOVEN
Concerto No 1
Concerto No 2
Concerto No 3
Concerto No 4
Concerto No 5
Triple Concerto

BRAHMS
Concerto No 1
Concerto No 2

CHOPIN
Concerto No 1
Concerto No 2

GRIEG
Concerto in A minor

MOZART
Concerto No 9 K.271 in E flat
Concerto No 20 K.466 in D minor
Concerto No 21 K.467 in C
Concerto No 22 K.482 in E flat
Concerto No 23 K.488 in A
Concerto No 24 K.491 in C minor
Concerto No 27 K.595 in B flat

PROKOFIEV
Concerto No 1

RACHMANINOV
Concerto No 2
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

RAVEL
Concerto in G major

SAINT-SAENS
Concerto No 2

SCHUMANN
Concerto in A minor

TCHAIKOVSKY
Concerto No 1

WEBER
Konzertstucke in F Minor, Op.79

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Schedule

Salle Pleyel, , Paris

Maurice Ravel         Trio
César Franck          Sonate pour violon et piano
Franz Schubert        Trio avec piano op. 99

with Guy Braunstein, violin and Zvi Plesser, cello

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Press

Beethoven

Piano Concerto no. 5

Seoul Philhamonic Orchestra, Mwung Whun Chung, recording

Kim and Chung seem very much on the same wavelength, interpretatively, from the opening flourish onwards, and they surmount this work's tricky transitions with great naturalness... The finale has an infectious energy to it, Kim making the trenchant rhythms sound lithe rather than obstreperous.  Gramophone, November 2013

Brahms

Piano Concerto no. 2

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits

Surely destined to be known as one of the greats to have emerged from the Leeds international piano competition, Kim was more expressive in tone and phrasing – impassioned and graceful, thrusting and rhapsodically introverted in turn. The News, Portsmouth

Concert, November 2012

London Symphony Orchestra

"The interplay between Kim and an LSO on peak form took us to the heart of the matter, with an acute sense of classical style rare in any pianist. Everything flowed effortlessly and yet had the ‘gift to be simple’ whilst never sounding bland." Classical Source.com
"Kim’s strong supple fingers and super-restrained use of the sustaining pedal pulled focus on brilliant articulation and though he didn’t go in for the kind of heightened poetry that can take this piece into the realms of the other worldly his strong singing tone was as honest as it was expressive." The Arts Desk

Concert, January 2011

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

"Intuitive musicianship from pianist Sunwook Kim in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2 filled every bar with an extraordinary sense of lyricism. 
If the first movement spoke of earthly beauty, then the Larghetto was surely heaven-sent; angelic in phrase and feeling and conveyed with the most sensitive and sensuous fingerwork. 
Even the final Allegro’s mazurka was touched with an uncommon poetic aura and all under the sympathetic accompaniment of Kirill Karabits"

Bournmouth Echo