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Violist Lee Hae-sue takes top prize at ARD competition

Sept. 11, 2023 - 14:52 By Park Ga-young

Lee Hae-sue (middle) poses for photos with third prize winners Takehiro Konoe from Japan (left) and Ionel Ungureanu from Germany in Munich, Sept. 10. (Samsung Foundation of Culture)

South Korean violist Lee Hae-sue took home the first prize and audience prize at the 72nd ARD International Music Competition Munich on Sept. 10 at Hercules Hall in Munich.

The 23-year-old violist received 19,000 euros ($20,000) in prize money and an opportunity to perform with the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra.

The ARD International Music Competition covers harp, double bass, piano trio and viola. Some 50 musicians competed in the viola category, held Sept. 2- 10.

For the final round, Lee performed William Walton’s Viola Concerto with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Lee, a recipient of a Samsung Music Fellowship, plays a Gasparo da Salo viola made in 1590 with sponsorship from the Samsung Foundation of Culture.

Lee is the second Korean winner in the viola category of the competition. In 2013, Lee Yura was the first Korean winner.

The ARD International Music Competition, launched in 1952, encompasses 21 categories, including instrumental, vocal, and chamber music, making it Germany's most prestigious music competition that covers all classical genres.

Lee made her debut in 2011 at Kumho Cultural Foundation’s Prodigy Concert series. She won several competitions including being the youngest and the first Korean to win at the Primrose Viola International Competition in 2018.

Lee studied at the Juilliard Pre-College and the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts. She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, studying with Roberto Diaz and Hsin-yun Huang. She completed her master's degree at the Hochschule fur Musik Hans Eisler in Germany, studying with Tabea Zimmermann.

Pianist Yoo Yong-gi (Kumho Cultural Foundation)

Meanwhile, another rising Korean musician was awarded a global music prize on the same day. Yoo Yong-gi, 29, won second place at the Scottish International Piano Competition 2023, in Glasgow, UK, following the final round in which three finalists performed a concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Yoo also debuted in 2009 at the Young Prodigy Concert, Kumho Cultural Foundation’s signature program that supports talented young artists.