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South Korea's Hong Seok-young nabs top prize at junior edition of Cliburn Piano Competition

By Park Ga-young

Published : June 19, 2023 - 12:05

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(From left) Wu Yifan, Hong Seok-young and Jan Schulmeister. (The Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition. (From left) Wu Yifan, Hong Seok-young and Jan Schulmeister. (The Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition.

South Korean teen pianist Hong Seok-young became the winner of the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival that ended Saturday in Dallas, Texas.

For the final round that took place on Saturday, the 15-year-old performed Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43.”

Hong also took home the Audience Award.

The third edition of the junior competition designed for pianists age 13 to 17 took place from June 8 to Saturday, with 37 pianists out of 248 who applied invited to Dallas.

Hong won the Bernice Gressman Meyerson First Prize, which comes with a cash award of $15,000. Wu Yifan, 14, from China took the second prize while Jan Schulmeister, from the Czech Republic was named the third prize winner.

Following two years at Yewon School in Seoul, Hong moved to Boston in 2022 to study piano at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School with Paik Hae-sun while also attending the Walnut Hill School for the Arts.

According to the competition’s website, Hong was inspired by two recent winners of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition -- South Korea’s Sunwoo Yekwon and Lim Yunchan -- which were part of his motivation for taking part in the Cliburn Junior competition.

“I hope to be a pianist that can remind and somehow transfer the audience’s own personal stories. From those reminded experiences, I hope they find happiness, relief and even nostalgia. Beyond thinking about the stories from the past, I also hope they can imagine lots of things while and after listening to my performance,” Hong was quoted as saying on the competition’s website.