South Korean pianist Sunwoo Ye-kwon, who is the first Korean to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2017, and Taiwanese-Australian violinist Ray Chen, the winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2009, will work in harmony for the first time since each has launched a professional career. The two classical musicians, who are of same age, went to the Curtis Institute of Music in the U.S. Their encounter in the professional music world will take place in the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall on Aug. 31, under the title of “Super Duo Series: Ray Chen & Sunwoo Ye-kwon.”
Mast Media, the agency for the upcoming concert, announced that although Ray Chen and Sunwoo Ye-kwon have played together several times when they were at the Curtis Music Institute, this August performance would be their first stage since both have earned a world-class reputation.
The concert will feature Edvard Greig’s Violin Sonata No. 2, Francis Poulenc’s Violin Sonata, and Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major, which was dedicated as a wedding gift to violinist Ysaye. All of these works have a dramatic scale, which demands the piano to convey expression and emotions equal to that of the violin.
Ray Chen gave recitals in Korea in 2015 and 2018, subsequent to his first performance with the Korean Chamber Orchestra, then Seoul Baroque Ensemble, in 2010, the year after his win at the Queen Elisabeth Competition.
Chen actively communicates with classical audiences through social media. The YouTube channel directly run by the musician himself has 260,000 subscribers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the violinist has sought consistent interactions with his fans by releasing a recording he personally recorded at home on the channel. He has also been consistent in releasing albums. The “Golden Age,” released in 2018, which featured Bruch’s violin concerto No. 1, was appraised by the London-based magazine Gramaphone as “joyful, original, stunningly played,” and drew forth the exclamation, “What more could anybody want?”
The two musicians will hold recitals with the same program in Daejeon Arts Center on Sept. 1, in Daegu Dalseo Arts Center on Sept. 2, and in Busan Cultural Center on Sept. 3.