In 1937 Belgian music-lover queen Elisabeth set up the first Queen Elisabeth Music Competition. Since the beginning it was devoted to violin, the year after that pianists could participate and nowadays it rotates every year for violin, piano and singing. At the same time, a composing composition is held, of which the winning piece has to be played by all participants. The competition is considered one of the most prestigious and difficult around the world.
This year, the competition was dedicated to voice. It is held in the opera house “De Munt” in Brussels and even the royal family attends the concerts. A renowned jury (this year with Teresa Berganza and José van Dam!) is appointed to choose a winner. I was surprised to find out that among the finalist there were 4 South Korean singers: Sumi Hwang (soprano), Hyesang Park (soprano), Seung Jick Kim (tenor) and Hansung Yoo (baritone). This night, Sumi Hwang was crowned first place in the competition – and she totally deserves it. What a voice and technique!
This is Sumi Hwang in her favorite role of Mimi (La Bohème – Puccini) during the semi-finals:
The impressive finals with orchestra you can watch here.
Up till now South Korea has had 4 winners in the competition (2 for singing, 2 for competition). To compare: there are as many Belgian winners and that’s one more than Japan. It seems that there are quite a lot excellent opera singers in Korea – the world-famous Sumi Joo for example. Could it be that South Koreans are more fond of classical (European) music like opera than other Asian countries are or am I mistaken?