Yang In-mo is first Korean violinist to win XII International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition

Violinist Yang In-mo [LEE SANG-WOOK]

Yang In-mo became the first Korean violinist ever to take home the first place prize at the prestigious XII International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, which came to an end on Sunday in Helsinki, Finland.

The competition is held every five years. The second place prize went to Nathan Meltzer, 21, from the United States, and third to Dmytro Udovychenko, 23, from Ukraine.

The 27-year-old winning violinist received a cash prize of 30,000 euros ($32,000), along with a mentoring prize from Pekka Kuusisto and Sakari Oramo and a product prize sponsored by Genelec Oy, according to the competition. The winner was also awarded, for the first time in the history of the competition, a trophy in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), created by Yle Innovations in cooperation with the competition.

“I am so happy to see such good results as I have worked very hard,” Yang said after receiving the first prize through Credia, his Korean agency. “It was my first time in Finland and the response from the audience was great and I was welcomed and the energy was great. Above all, the nature was just so beautiful that it was just a healing trip for me.”

Yang also said it is the first time for him to compete in seven years, since the Paganini Competition.

“With all the hard work and preparation, I feel like all the competitors deserve the first prize. We got to learn from each other, and I was fascinated by each and every one. I am so honored, and I am happy that I would be able to visit Finland more often with the first prize.”

Yang was also rewarded with a loan of a prestigious violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini from Turin, which dates back to 1772. It was loaned by Jane Ng through J & A Beare and the Beare’s International Violin Society. During the event, Kim So-ock from the Beare’s International Violin Society presented the violin to Yang.

Yang’s previous feats include winning the 54th International Violin Competition “Premio Paganini” in Genoa, Italy.

Yang competed in the latest competition against five other finalists on May 27 through 29. Each violinist had to perform two solo concertos, of which one is by Sibelius and the other volitional. They performed as soloists with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Anna-Maria Helsing and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk.

During the semifinals, the competitors had to perform a composition by Magnus Lindberg, a contemporary piece specially commissioned for the competition. Yang played Lindberg’s “Caprice” and received an award for Best Interpretation as well.

The final round and award ceremony was held at Yle Areena, and also streamed online.

The International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition is one of the oldest violin competitions in the world. According to the competition, a total of 240 violinists applied to enter the competition this year, a record high. Among them, 39 were chosen to participate in the competition. The next International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition will be held in 2025.

Yang accompanies the Orchestre national de Metz from France on May 3 at the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. [LAVORA]

Yang studied with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he was the only violinist in its highly selective Artist Diploma program. He is currently based in Berlin. Yang recently performed with the Orchestre national de Metz from France on May 3 at the Seoul Arts Center, southern Seoul.