By Lee Hyo-won
A 14-year-old South Korean middle school student won first prize at the 6th Moscow International Frederick Chopin Competition for Young Pianists Saturday. In addition to Cho Sung-jin, Korea's Ryu Eun-sil, 16, finished fifth at one of the world's leading music events for children.
A total of 36 children aged 16 and under from nine countries ― including five from Korea ― competed for awards after making the preliminary round Sept. 12.
At the closing ceremony in Moscow, Cho swept not only the first prize ($5,000) but also awards for best concerto, best polonaise, youngest player and jury prize. ``Mr. Cho is highly deserving of the first prize for his exceptional sense of tone and pianism,'' jury president Petrov was quoted as saying by Yonhap News. ``Chopin's piano pieces are difficult in that they require both technical talent and artistic musicality. It is highly impressive that Cho beat other competitors at the young age of 14,'' said Lee Yang-suk, a faculty member of Sunhwa Arts High School and jury member of the competition.
Cho began playing the piano at age six and began formal training at Seoul Arts Center's music academy for child prodigies. He currently studies at Yewon, a prestigious arts school in Seoul. ``I'm very happy to win first prize,'' said Cho. ``I would like to become a player who can move people's hearts through the piano.'' As winner of the event, he will give a recital in Moscow in November.
The Chopin Competition takes place every four years for children under the age of 16. Participants compete with piano pieces by Chopin, and in particular Piano Concertos Nos. 1-3 with a live symphony orchestra.
Young Korean pianists have done well in the Moscow event. In 1996, popular brothers Lim Dong-min and Dong-hyek finished first and second respectively, and in 2000 Lee Hyo-joo shared the top award.