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Alumnus Wins Prestigious Contest

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Yekwon Sunwoo Is Gold Medalist in Van Cliburn Competition

Gold medalist Yekwon Sunwoo (MM ’13, piano) performing with Leonard Slatkin (BM ’67, orchestral conducting) and the Forth Worth Symphony Orchestra in the final round of the Van Cliburn Competition.

 (Photo by Ralph Lauer)

Yekwon Sunwoo (MM ’13, piano), of South Korea, took home first prize in the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The winners were announced on June 10. It is the first time in the history of the prestigious competition, which is held every four years in Fort Worth, Tex., that a South Korean won the top prize. As the gold medal winner, Sunwoo, 28, will receive a cash prize of $50,000, three years of career management services, and a live and recording partnership with Universal Music Group.

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The four-round competition began on May 25 with 30 competitors, six of whom made it to the final rounds. A number of other Juilliard alumni were involved with the competition, as contestants and jurors. Semifinalist Tony Yike Yang (Pre-College ’16), of Canada, won the Jury Discretionary award. Han Chen (BM ’14, MM ’15, piano), representing Taiwan, was also a semifinalist.

Jury chairman Leonard Slatkin (BM ’67, orchestral conducting), who has conducted and taught at Juilliard, led the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for the concerto portions of the semifinal and final rounds. The panel also included faculty member Joseph Kalichstein (BS ’67, MS ’69, piano) and Erik T. Tawastsjerna (BM ’77, MM ’78, piano).

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