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Taek Gi Lee mesmerises judges

Seventeen-year-old Taek Gi Lee, from South Korea, winner of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. Picture by John Cole

Seventeen-year-old Taek Gi Lee, from South Korea, winner of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. Picture by John Cole

PIANISTS from across the world competed at the final of this year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition on Saturday (March 8).

Seventeen-year-old Taek Gi Lee, from South Korea, gave a mesmerising rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 and won the first prize of £10,000 plus the chance to play as a soloist with the renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

His playing, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, also won him the Audience Prize of £500, awarded by popular acclaim.

Professor Frank Wibaut, chairman of the jury and artistic director of the competition, said: “Taek Gi Lee, was absolutely exceptional. Both jury and audience felt the astounding ability and emotional maturity of this fantastic young artist.

“The jury felt we heard a magnificent and world-class pianist who is on track to become a household name throughout the international world of music. It was a special moment for us all to hear him in the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.”

Taek Gi Lee began studying piano at the age of six. Since then he has won numerous prestigious piano awards.

He is currently studying at the Juilliard School Pre College Division in New York.

The second prize of £2,500 went to another South Korean, Yekwon Sunwoo, who also played Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3. The judges described his performance as ‘very special’.

Third prize of £1,250 went to 24-year-old Polish pianist Marcin Koziak, who played Tchaikovsky’s popular Piano Concerto No 1 to tremendous applause from the audience.

The prizes were awarded by 93-year-old Dame Fanny Waterman, legendary founder of the renowned Leeds Piano Competition.

More than 40 young concert pianists from around the world came to play for the international jury. Seven got through to the semi-final last Thursday (March 6).

Three were then chosen to play in the final on Saturday.

 

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