Youngsters dazzle with nimble fingers

Youngsters dazzle with nimble fingers
Chae Won Kim,13, from South Korea, won the Steinway Regional Finals Asia-Pacific competition at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Concert Hall, at the National University of Singapore campus, last night.

A 13-year-old pianist from South Korea has won the second Steinway Regional Finals Asia-Pacific, which was held at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Concert Hall last night.

Chae Won Kim, who started playing the piano at age five, won over the judges with her piece, Tchaikovsky Dumka Op 59. The second place went to Do Hoang Linh Chi, 17, from Vietnam.

Twelve-year-old Nicole Tay flew the Singapore flag in third place, which she tied with Kant Kosoltrakul, 17, from Thailand. Nicole, who is the youngest participant in the competition, also won the Most Popular Pianist award, voted by the public through an SMS voting campaign. She received a scholarship to the Steinway Artist Adam Gyorgy Island Academy in Bali.

Chae Won was calm about her win. "I thought I would win. I was satisfied with my performance, and I did my best."

The prestigious piano competition, organised by Steinway Gallery Singapore, the exclusive dealer of Steinway & Sons pianos here, and supported by Swiss private banking group Julius Baer, saw eight competitors from the Asia-Pacific region taking part.

Aside from the top four winners, the other contestants were Celestine Yoong,13, from Malaysia; Teofilia Onggowinoto,14, from Indonesia; Nathan John Torento,15, from the Philippines; and Feng Yi Chen, 17, from Taiwan.

Over two hours, the young pianists, who qualified for the finals after winning the national level of the Steinway Youth Piano Competition in their home countries earlier this year, impressed the audience with their repertoires. Earlier in the day, the contestants each played three pieces at a closed-door judging event.

The competitors were judged by an international panel of renowned experts in the performing arts: Professor Ichiro Kato from Japan, Professor Mina Perry from Los Angeles, Professor Zhou Ting from China, and Ms Naomi Ives from Britain.

Ms Ives, an artist manager at IMG Artists, was blown away by the standard of the young pianists. "We felt Chae Won was the best because she sold her pieces in a very convincing way. But overall, the level here was very high. Even as Asian pianists playing Russian or French pieces... it's no longer about where you're from, but rather how your life and experiences come out in the music."

Chae Won won a coveted spot to perform in the International Steinway Festival in Hamburg, Germany, as a representative of the Asia-Pacific region, alongside other pianists from different continents. The biennial event, which started in 1987, will take place in September.

Aside from a host of special events, including a visit to the historic Steinway factory, the festival's pianists will perform at the grand Laeiszhalle concert hall, Germany's largest concert hall.

This article was first published on July 27 2014.
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