Rising piano star wins Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists

18 July 2023
By Ellie Palmer
16-year-old South Korean pianist Saehyun Kim takes home First Prize

Saehyun Kim a rising senior at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, has won the Senior Division of the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists. 

Performing with the Canton Symphony Orchestra in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, Kim clinched the title with a stunning performance of the first movement of Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op 11 in the concerto round.

Two days prior, Kim performed a movement from Brahms’s Piano Trio No 1 in B major, Op 8 with members of the Cleveland Orchestra in the chamber round. Placing first in the Competition comes with a $10,000 prize. In addition to winning First Prize, Kim also won two separate special prizes: the Senior Division Audience Prize and the Senior Division Junior Jury, both worth $500.

"I am ecstatic about the result and Saehyun’s well-deserved achievement!” says Kim’s piano teacher, HaeSun Paik, Co-Chair of Piano at the New England Conservatory and herself an alumna of Walnut Hill. “He is already an artist with phenomenal talent and a brilliant mind, which is served by uncompromising self-discipline: a rare combination. I can’t wait to see how he will develop further in the future.”

Hailing from Seoul, South Korea, Kim currently resides in Massachusetts and studies under Walnut Hill alumna HaeSun Paik ’83, P’21. In 2022, he won First Prize at both the Morningside Music Bridge International Concerto Competition and the New England Conservatory (NEC) Preparatory School Concerto Competition. In his first ever international competition, the 2019 International Tchaikovsky Online Piano Competition for Young Musicians, he won Second Prize as the youngest finalist. Additionally, he won First Prize at both the 2021 New York International Classical Music Competition and the 2018 Ewha & Kyunghyang Music Concours, the most prestigious young artist music competition in Korea.

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Kim is also a Lang Lang Foundation Young Scholar 2022-2024. Watch him perform for Lang Lang and Friends below.