Baritone Kim Tae-han became the first Korean man to win the Queen Elisabeth Competition for Voice in Brussels on Saturday.
He is also the first Asian man to win the prestigious award. Before Kim, two Korean sopranos had brought home the award — Hong Haeran in 2011 and Hwang Sumi in 2014.
Kim, 22, was the youngest among the 12 finalists. The second prize went to American contralto Jasmin White and the third prize went to Russian-German soprano Julia Muzychenko-Greenhalgh.
During the finals, Kim performed several selections, including “O, du mein holder Abendstern,” an aria from Wagner’s opera “Tannhauser.”
This year, renowned Korean soprano Sumi Jo was part of the jury.
Kim said after the competition that he was “submerged in the music” and that he didn’t feel any pressure.
He is currently a senior at the Seoul National University. Together with the second and third prize winners, Kim will be holding about 10 concerts across Korea from September.
The Queen Elisabeth Competition is one of the world’s top three classical music competitions along with the International Chopin Piano Competition and the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Named after Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, the competition is held in Brussels every year, rotating among four categories — piano, cello, voice and violin.
During last year’s competition for the cello, Korean Choi Ha-young brought home first prize.
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [email@example.com]