Pianists Yeol Eum Son and Yunchan Lim are honoured at South Korea’s prestigious Daewon Music Awards. Son is named the Grand Prize winner for her outstanding achievements in the domestic and international music arts scene. Lim, who received the 2020 scholarship from the foundation, wins the New Artist Prize for his domestic and international excellence. The awards, which include a plaque and cash prize, will be bestowed by the Daewon Cultural Foundation on 20 May at The Westin Josun Seoul.

Established in 2006, the Daewon Music Awards recognize classical musicians and organisations that make great accomplishments both domestically in South Korea and internationally. The awards return in this their 13th iteration after being paused during the pandemic.

Poetic elegance, an innate feeling for expressive nuance and the power to project bold, dramatic contrasts are among the arresting attributes of Yeol Eum Son’s pianism. Her refined artistry rises from breathtaking technical control and a profound empathy for the emotional temper of the works within her strikingly wide repertoire. She is driven above all by her natural curiosity to explore a multitude of musical genres and styles and the desire to reveal what she describes as the “pure essence” of everything she performs. Yeol Eum refuses to impose limits on her artistic freedom and remains determined to explore new artistic territory. Her choice of repertoire, which spans everything from the works of Bach and Mozart to those of Shchedrin and Kapustin, is guided chiefly by the quality and depth of the music.

The international reach of Yeol Eum’s work is clearly reflected in collaborations with, among others, the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Gürzenich, NDR Radiophilharmonie the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber, Aurora Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Festival, Helsinki, Bergen, Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta , Baltimore, Detroit, Melboune, Sydney Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition to Yeol Eum’s extensive performance schedule, she has an active recording schedule with the most recent releases on Naïve record label of her album Love Music alongside violinist Svetlin Roussev and a stunning box set of Mozart’s Complete Piano Sonatas.

Yunchan Lim catapulted to international stardom when he became the youngest-ever winner of the Van Cliburn Competition in June 2022. His magnetic stage presence, combined with deep musicality, has garnered him a devoted global fanbase, leading to sold-out concert halls worldwide. He has recently topped international charts with his Decca Classics’ debut, Chopin: Études.

The stardom rise of Yunchan Lim brought him to perform with some of the most prestigious worldwide orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Münchner Philharmoniker, Tokyo Philharmonic, Korean National Symohony, and in the upcoming season with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, WDR Sinfonieorchester, RSB Berlin, ÖRF Vienna Radio Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Born in Siheung, Korea, Yunchan Lim’s musical journey began at the age of 7. He quickly immersed himself in his studies, and at age 13, he was accepted into the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts, where he met his teacher and mentor, Minsoo Sohn. Yunchan’s international debut came in 2018 when he won awards at the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists. His talent continued to shine, and by the age of 15, he was the youngest to win Korea’s IsangYun International Competition.

Photos: Yeol Eum Son – Marco Borrgreve; Yunchan Lim – James Holecrop