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Sunwook Kim

About this Artist

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 in 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 London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, 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 those with Karina Canellakis, Nathalie Stutzmann, Thomas Søndergård, Tugan Sokhiev, Daniel Harding, Paavo Jarvi, David Afkham, Edward Gardner, John Eliot Gardiner, Myung-Whun Chung, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kirill Karabits, Marek Janowski, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Manze, Vassily Sinaisky, Paavo Järvi, Michael Sanderling, Yuri Bashmet, and Mark Elder.  

Recital highlights to date include regular appearances at Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall (London International Piano Series), in the Piano 4 Étoiles series at the Philharmonie de Paris and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Piano aux Jacobins Festival, Aix Festival, and La Roque-d’Anthéron International Piano Festival (France), as well as at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Symphony Hall in Osaka, and Seoul Arts Centre. Sunwook is also a keen chamber musician and has collaborated with singers.  

As soloist in the 2022/23 season, Kim returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic (with Tianyi Lu), London Symphony Orchestra (with Michael Tilson Thomas), and Chamber Orchestra of Europe to tour South Korea, as well as to the Seoul Philharmonic in its tour of Europe (Concertgebouw, Cadogan Hall). Kim will also return to Bournemouth Symphony both as soloist (with Karabits) and to conduct Dvořák’s Cello Concerto alongside Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. Kim’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 honor to conduct the Seoul Philharmonic in its National Liberation Day Concert, marking the 77th anniversary of Korea’s National Liberation Day. Further conducting debuts this season include those with the Fundación Excelentia Madrid and Macao Orchestra.  

Kim’s debut recital disc was released on the Accentus label in October 2015 and featured Beethoven’s Waldstein and Hammerklavier sonatas. This was followed by a recording of Franck’s Prélude, choral et fugue paired with Brahms’ Sonata No. 3. He has released further recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas (Nos. 8, 14, 23, and 30-32), and his most recent chamber music release features Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas in collaboration with Clara-Jumi Kang. His discography also includes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Myung-Whun Chung (2019, Accentus), in addition to recordings on Deutsche Grammophon: Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto (2014) with the Seoul Philharmonic and Myung-Whun Chung, a CD that attracted outstanding reviews and awards (BBC Music Magazine, International Classical Music Award); 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 made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (FRAM) in 2019. Besides Leeds, his international awards include 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 program.