Van Cliburn Piano Competition Winner Yekwon Sunwoo

Berkshire Debut at Mahaiwe in Great Barrington

By: - Feb 15, 2022

Gold medalist of the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Yekwon Sunwoo has been hailed for his “unfailingly consistent excellence” (International Piano) and celebrated as “a pianist who commands a comprehensive technical arsenal that allows him to thunder without breaking a sweat” (Chicago Tribune).  He will be making his Berkshire area debut on March 20 on stage with acclaimed violinist Daniel Phillips, violist Daniel Panner, and cellist and artistic director Yehuda Hanani.  The program showcases Sunwoo’s remarkable piano prowess both as a soloist as well as a chamber musician and partner.

Following in the footsteps of former illustrious Van Cliburn winners such as Radu Lupu, Olga Kern, Alexander Korbin and Vladimir Viardo, the prize has catapulted Yekwon Sunwoo to international attention.  Chopin’s Scherzi, from the word for “joke” (scherzo), are anything but light, humorous and fluffy, and though much recorded, are best performed live by only the most outstanding and secure piano talents.  Considered among Chopin’s masterpieces, this large-scale work, dramatic and romantic, features startling effects, mesmerizing and spiritual passages and unbridled power and exuberant energy.  

Yekwon Sunwoo is joined for the Brahms Opus 25 Piano Quartet by veteran chamber musicians – members of the Orion String Quartet, Mendelssohn String Quartet, contemporary ensemble Sequitur, and frequent collaborators with other top ensembles.  One of Brahms’s most viscerally seductive works, the Quartet in G minor it is much beloved for its famous rousing finale, the Rondo alla Zingarese (Gypsy Rondo), reflecting Brahms’s lifelong fascination with Hungarian folk music.  

Two master tunesmiths and four superb performers unite for an unforgettable performance and introduction to a new star in the musical firmament!

Buy tickets to “Chopin and Brahms” 


A powerful and virtuosic performer, he also, in his own words, “strives to reach for the truth and pure beauty in music.” The first Korean to win Cliburn Gold, Yekwon Sunwoo’s 19/20 season included appearances with Fort Worth and Tucson Symphonies and debuts with Washington Chamber Orchestra, Royal Danish Orchestra and Danish Radio Orchestra as well as at the Vail Festival with the Dallas Symphony. 2021 saw Mr. Sunwoo make his debut with Orchestra Chambre de Paris and return to KBS Symphony with Jaap Van Zweden. In previous seasons, he performed as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop, Houston Symphony, National Orchestra of Belgium, Sendai Philharmonic and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Recital appearances include Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and Salle Cortot. An avid chamber musician, he has performed at Chamber Music of Lincoln Center’s Inside Chamber Music Lectures, at Summit Music, Bowdoin International and Toronto Music Festivals. In addition to the Cliburn Gold Medal, Yekwon won first prizes at the 2015 International German Piano Award, the 2014 Vendome Prize held at the Verbier Festival, and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition. Born in Anyang, South Korea, he began studying piano at the age of 8 and made his recital and orchestral debuts in Seoul at 15. His teachers include Seymour Lipkin, Robert McDonald and Richard Goode.  A self-proclaimed foodie, Yekwon enjoys finding Pho in each city he visits and takes pride in his own homemade Korean soups. 

Violist Daniel Panner is Principal violist of New York City Opera, a member of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, and the contemporary ensemble Sequitur. He has performed at festivals including Marlboro, Tanglewood, and Aspen and collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, and Juilliard String Quartets as well as with artists such as Isidore Cohen, Felix Galimir, and Mitsuko Uchida. Winner of 1998 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award as a member of Whitman String Quartet, he has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; toured with Musicians from Marlboro and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has been guest artist with Bargemusic, Carnegie Chamber Players, and Da Capo Chamber Players. His recordings include Thea Musgrave’s Lamenting With Ariadne for viola and chamber orchestra for Albany records and he has been featured on NPR’s Performance Today. He has served on the faculties of the Juilliard School and Queens College Conservatory of Music and is co-chair of the String Department at Mannes College of Music, the New School in New York City.

Violinist Daniel Phillips enjoys a versatile career as a chamber musician, solo artist, and teacher. A graduate of Juilliard, he is a founding member of the Orion String Quartet, which performs regularly at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Since winning the 1976 Young Concert Artists Competition, he has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, including the Pittsburgh, Boston, Houston, Phoenix, and San Antonio symphonies. He appears regularly at the Spoleto USA Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Chesapeake Music Festival, and Music from Angel Fire; has participated in the International Musicians Seminar in Cornwall, England since its inception; and recently returned to the Marlboro Music Festival.

He has served on the faculty of the Heifetz Institute and the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar at Stanford. He was a member of the renowned Bach Aria Group and has toured and recorded in a string quartet for Sony with Gidon Kremer, Kim Kashkashian, and Yo-Yo Ma. A judge in the 2018 Seoul International Violin Competition and the 2019 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, he is a professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music, Bard College Conservatory, and The Juilliard School. 

Cellist Yehuda Hanani is founder and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music. His engaging chamber music with commentary has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant and a nominee for Grand Prix du Disque for his pioneering recording of Alkan, he appears with orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and on the recital stage on five continents.

Mr. Hanani is one of the illustrious cellists of today, has appeared with musical luminaries—Aaron Copland, Andre Kostelanetz, Dawn Upshaw, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Leon Fleisher—since his career was launched; and is a prolific recording artist and an innovator in reshaping concert programs to include original, illuminating commentary. Festival appearances and residencies have included Aspen, Bowdoin, Marlboro, Round Top, Great Lakes, Casals Festival Prades, Australia Chamber Music, Finland Festival, Israel Festival, and numerous others. He has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews in the media, and his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracted thousands of fans. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for three decades, he is on the faculty of Mannes College in New York City and directs the Berkshire High Peaks Festival each summer.