“I did not even think about winning the competition because I had an awfully sore throat right before the final round. Luckily, my throat recovered like magic. The last 10 days was a mixture of frustrations and excitements,” said baritone Kim-Gi-hoon after becoming the first South Korean to win the Main prize at BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2021 on Saturday (local time).
The BBC Cardiff Competition has grown as one of the world’s most renowned concours in vocal music since it awarded Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky the main prize and Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel the Lieder prize. In 1999, South Korean baritone No Dae-san won the Song prize and Park Jong-min became the 2015 winner of the award. Kim Gi-hoon won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition for the first time as a South Korean singer.
In the final round competed by 16 singers from 15 countries, the most eye-catching scene was Kim’s performance bringing tears to U.S. soprano Roberta Alexander’s eyes. It was broadcast across Britain on BBC TV that Alexander in the judging panel started shedding tears with a serious look on the face when the South Korean baritone sang “Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen” from E. W. Korngold's opera "The Dead City.”
Kim plans to open a vocal recital on July 8 at TLi Art Center, Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, for which most parts of the program are dedicated to songs performed during the Cardiff Competition. He will sing a total of 11 songs including the aria from "The Dead City” that impressed the judging panel, Wagner's “The Evening Star” from “Tannhäuser” and “Longing Heart” composed by Kim Dong-hwan and sung for the song session at the Cardiff Competition.