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Another Hong Kong piano grand-prize winner debuts in Manila

By Pablo Tariman
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:22:00 10/18/2009

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Leisure, Music, Awards and Prizes

REMEMBER the euphoria over Russian pianist Ilya Rashkovsky?s performances in Manila in 2006 and 2007?

His two engagements in Manila was part of his prize as the grand-prize winner of the First Hong Kong International Piano Competition, sponsored by the Hong Kong Chopin Society under Andrew and Anabella Freris.

The good news is that the second edition of the competition has produced another brilliant first-prize winner?Jinsang Lee, who also won first prize at the 2009 Geza Anda International Piano Competition in Zurich, and two others in Japan and Germany under the auspices of the Martha Argerich Foundation based in Cologne.

What makes this prizewinner exciting is that he was chosen by a distinguished international jury composed of noted pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, Gary Graffman, Peter Frankl, Vladimir Krainev, Pascal Roge and Cristina Ortiz. (Graffman was a frequent Manila visitor and Ortiz was also heard in Manila in the mid-?80s. From what I know, Ashkenazy was also heard in Manila in the ?60s.)

Chopin Society chair Andrew Freris pointed out that the Asian tour of the Hong Kong prizewinners emphasizes the music-making and sharing aspect of competitions.

I think this policy should be adopted by local competition organizers who discard their prizewinners after giving them plaques and modest cash prizes: The artists? growth depend more on exposure and performance.

For one, the Society believes classical music is neither an elitist nor a minority interest in Hong Kong. Its series of concerts are based on the notion that Hong Kong audiences deserve nothing but the highest quality the international music scene can offer.

Born in 1981 in Seoul, South Korea, Jinsang Lee started playing the piano at age 7, and commenced his studies at the Seoul Arts High School and then on to the Korean National University of Arts, where he studied with professor Daejin Kim. In the last three years, he studied at the Nuremberg University of Music under professors Wolfgang Manz and Julia Goldstein, and at the Cologne University of Music under professor Pavel Gililov.

Lee?s Philippine debut at the Philamlife Theater on Oct. 22 (7 p.m.) is courtesy of the ROS Music Center, which will make available a new Bosendorfer piano for the South Korean pianist. The Manila program includes Chopin?s Variations in B Flat Major, Op. 12; 3 Nocturnes, Op. 15; and 3 Mazurkas, Op. 59; Mendelssohn?s Song without Words, Op. 19 No. 1; and Ferdinand Hiller?s Sonata, Op. 47.

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