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First Korean to win Van Cliburn Int'l Piano Competition Yekwon Sunwoo is back in Korea with first album 'Mozart' Updated: 2020-12-04 15:21:32 KST

It's Friday, and we all know what that means. Our weekly Life With Culture segment is here with the hottest events that are on this weekend. Our arts and culture correspondent Kim Bo-kyoung is here with us in the studio. Bo-kyoung welcome, I heard that you met a star of the classical music scene this week.

That's right Conn-young, lots of Korean artists who have gone overseas are coming back to Korea as it is relatively safe to play here despite the pandemic.
Among those, the global star who won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2017 Yekwon Sunwoo, is back not just to do a one-time recital but with his first studio album 'Mozart'.
Given that Yekwon Sunwoo got the Cliburn prize by playing a piece by Rachmaninoff, classical music fans might question why he chose Mozart.

"Mozart was actually the composer that I first fell in love with when I first began playing the piano at the age of eight,… and also I think when I played the Mozart works I probably got more compliments and praise from other musician colleagues and some of the professors so I think somehow Mozart was always in my head even though I didn’t actually play in public concerts or recital programs as often as other composers."

Lots of pianists have already played Mozart's pieces, and they have their own ways of interpreting the master's works. What aspect of Mozart is Yekwon Sunwoo showing to his listeners?

Mozart is well-known for pieces that show happy and childlike feelings, but Yekwon Sunwoo focused on his sensitive characteristics and tried to deliver a range of emotions.

"When I think of Mozart, there’s so much more to it. He is very dramatic and he is very bluntly direct and really full of emotions and very very highly sensitive person and composer so, that’s what I want to capture not only the pure crystal like sound what people think of but so much more depth into it. There could be sometimes very depressing also. And that’s what I wanted to capture. But at the same time, not being romantic or melancholic but within this frame having all the freedom and expressing all the emotions."

Amid the pandemic gripping our lives, I think listening to Yekwon Sunwoo playing Mozart's pieces could very well soothe and relax us. How did he arrange the tracks on his album?

He separated the 19 tracks into two CDs each one for different mood, one for the day and one for night so that listeners can pick their own emotional journey.

"The first CD contains with the works that are mostly in major key,…meaning the mood is bright and somewhat happier character and the second CD is mostly in minor keys and they express a little more of loneliness and darker characters. I wrote all the details when I look at the scores, the things that go through in my head hoping to help people listen more carefully what the music is about and they hopefully they will be able to get deeper into the music."

For those who are looking to hear his music live, Yekwon Sunwoo's nationwide tour begins on December 30th, and he gave me a slight hint that he might play some of Chopin's pieces as those were also heavily influenced by Mozart.

Well, it'll be thrilling to catch his upcoming show. Thank you Bo-kyoung for sharing his stories.

Thank you.
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