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Lim Yun-chan makes New York Philharmonic debut

Posted May. 16, 2023 07:52,   

Updated May. 16, 2023 07:59


From the moment 19-year-old pianist Lim Yun-chan played his final note, a wave of applause rippled through the crowd of over 2,200 spectators. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra's conductor, James Gaffigan, shared a moving moment with Lim, exchanging a heartfelt embrace that embodied the overwhelming emotions in the room. Some audience were visibly moved, with tears glistening in their eyes.

Lim's debut performance at the David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center last Friday (local time) was nothing short of extraordinary. Having made waves as the youngest winner of the Van Cliburn International Competition last June, Lim chose Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, the triumphant piece from his competition win, for his inaugural collaboration with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. The world has clearly taken notice of this rising star: every seat for the three-day run from May 10 to the 12 was snapped up in advance, with eager fans even lining up from the break of dawn on performance days to secure 'standing tickets.'

The final performance was particularly memorable, with Lim offering not one, but three encore pieces in response to the unceasing standing ovation from the audience. Yet even then, the spectators seemed reluctant to leave, creating an endearingly awkward situation. Gaffigan took to social media to heap praise on Lim, describing him as "Godly technique, old soul musicianship, and the sweetest person." and expressing that it was an "honor to take part in this momentous occasion. "One septuagenarian who had attended all three days exclaimed, "Opportunities to hear such a genius performance are rare."

The New York Times (NYT), having interviewed Lim for the front page of their 'Art Section' before the performance, also extolled him in a headline piece after the performance with the title "Review: Yunchan Lim, Teenage Piano Star, Arrives in New York" and noted, "Who knew this piece was so funny?”, and “I say that YunChan Lim played like a dream, I mean something more literal.”

Next on the horizon for Lim, following in the footsteps of his mentor Professor Son Min-soo at the New England Conservatory in Boston, is a debut at Carnegie Hall in New York next February. Audiences can anticipate a captivating performance featuring the works of Chopin.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com