Sejong Cultural Society


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winners' concert

past competitions

2008 Sejong Music Competition


Piano:  Winston Choi | Fredda Hyman | JeongSoo Kim
Violin:  Russell Hershow | Mihaela Ionescu | Sando Shia | Victor Yampolsky
Cello:  Loren Brown | Patrick Jee | John Sharp


Winston Choi

Winner of the 2002 Orléans Concours International and Laureate of the 2003 Honens International Piano Competition, Canadian pianist Winston Choi is an inquisitive performer whose fresh approach to standard repertory, and masterful understanding, performance and commitment to works by living composers, make him one of today’s most dynamic young concert artists.

Choi maintains an active international performing schedule. In demand as a concerto soloist, he has appeared with l’Orchestre National de Lille, l’Orchestre Symphonique d’Orléans, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the CBC Radio Orchestra, the Kitchener‐Waterloo Symphony, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, and the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, among others.

Known for his colorful approach to programming and insightful commentary from the stage, Choi has recently appeared in recital at the National Arts Centre of Canada, the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, New York’s Carnegie‐Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Kravis Center in Florida, and the “Cicle Grans Solistes” in Spain. Choi performs extensively in France, having played venues such as the Salle Cortot, Lille’s Festival Rencontre Robert Casadesus,the Messiaen Festival, and the Strasbourg Festival. Frequently in demand throughout his native Canada, he has been awarded numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. His numerous performances can often be heard on CBC radio broadcasts. Recently, he toured Eastern Ontario and Quebec under the auspices of Jeunesses Musicales and embarked on a 10‐city Prairie Debut tour of the Canadian Prairie provinces. An accomplished chamber musician, he tours regularly with his wife, MingHuan Xu as Duo Diorama.

As a dedicated champion of contemporary music, Choi has premiered and commissioned over 100 works by young composers as well as established masters. A composer himself, being involved with the creative process is an integral part of his artistry. He was the first pianist to perform Pierre Boulez’s last version of Incises in North America and made the South American premiere of Luciano Berio‘s Sonata for pianoforte solo. He also regularly appears in concert at IRCAM, the world’s most renowned institution for contemporary music. Composers he has collaborated with include William Bolcom, Elliott Carter, Brian Ferneyhough, Bright Sheng, Christian Wolff, Chen Yi and John Zorn. He is also a core member of the new music ensemble Brave New Works.

Already a prolific recording artist, Choi’s debut CD, the complete piano works of Elliott Carter (l’Empreinte Digitale in France) was given 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine. He has also recorded 2 CDs l’Académie Charles Cros for Volume I. Other labels he can be heard on include Arktos, Crystal Records, and QuadroFrame.

Choi began his studies in Toronto with James Tweedie and Vivienne Bailey. He obtained both his Bachelor and Master Degrees at Indiana University, receiving the Performer’s Certificate studying with Menahem Pressler. Further studies were with Ursula Oppens at Northwestern University, where he completed his Doctorate of Music. An accomplished teacher, he is also in demand as a master class clinician. Previously on the faculties of Bowling Green State University and the Oberlin Conservatory, he is Assistant Professor and Head of Piano at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.


Fredda Hyman

Fredda Hyman is the Founder, Executive Director, and Artistic Director of Music in the Loft. Ms. Hyman is a longtime arts enthusiast who has worked extensively as a professional dancer and teacher, in addition to her leadership roles in the arts and education in Chicago—and around the world.

Fredda Hyman began her arts career as a featured performer with the American Ballet Theater. Her teaching career included positions at the Lehnhoff School of Music and Dance, the Bockman School of Dance, and the American School in Rome, Italy.

She was a Board Member for Urban Gateways, as well as Founder of Chamber Music in the Home, which evolved into the well-known Mostly Music.

Ms. Hyman founded Music in the Loft in 1992 as a small series of chamber concerts. This afternoon series has grown into what Andrew Patner has called “probably the premier presenter of young artists in Chicago.” And John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Music in the Loft is an invaluable chamber music series which does much to advance the careers of important young musicians.”


JeongSoo Kim

Dr. JeongSoo Kim is Associate Professor of Piano at Northern Illinois University where she teaches applied piano, piano literature, and piano pedagogy. Dr. Kim received her bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University, her master’s degree from the New England Conservatory, and her doctorate in piano performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music, where she worked as a piano class and applied piano teaching assistant and as a Graduate Award accompanist.

As an active performer and teacher, she has had numerous solo and chamber music performances throughout the United States and South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Costa Rica, and has participated in the Aspen and Chautauqua music festivals. Her solo recitals have been radio broadcasted in Buffalo, New York, and South Korea, and she has performed as a soloist with the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, Kun-San City Orchestra, NIU Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Eastman School of Music Student Orchestra. Her recent performing activities include solo, chamber, and piano duo recitals at Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Boston University, Philippine Women’s University, Sook-Myung University, Seoul City University, Kawai Piano Concert Hall, and Taiwan National Normal University.

Dr. Kim has presented lecture recitals at the College Music Society International Conference in Costa Rica and the Illinois State Music Teachers’ Association Annual Convention. She has published in the piano performance and pedagogy journal American Music Teacher, and has contributed many articles and concert reviews for Korean piano journals including Piano Music and International Piano Music. As an active member of MTNA, Dr. Kim serves as a Northwest District Chair for the Illinois State Music Teachers Association and Co-Vice President of Programs for the ISMTA Naperville Chapter.


Russell Hershow

A native of New York City, Russell Hershow took his first music lessons from his father, an amateur violinist. He went on to attend the Juilliard School and the Indiana University School of Music. Mr. Hershow received private instruction from Louise Behrend, Joseph Fuchs, Josef Gingold and Yuval Yaron.

Mr. Hershow participated in numerous music festivals and competitions before joining the Baltimore Symphony in 1987. In 1989, he played briefly with the Pittsburgh Symphony before being hired by Sir Georg Solti to join the Chicago Symphony. Now a member of the first violin section, he is an active chamber music player, teacher and participates in the Grand Teton Music Festival every summer.


Mihaela Ionescu

Mihaela Ionescu came to Chicago in 1980 from Europe and over the years she has been very active as an orchestra musician, chamber musician, and violin teacher.

Mihaela was born in Romania in a family of physicians (her father was a surgeon and her mother a pediatrician). She started playing the violin at the age of seven, after her parents were convinced that she should study a musical instrument since she sang so well at a very early age.

Since the age of nine, Mihaela has regularly played recitals and solo concerts and has participated in national and international competitions, including Bucharest in 1964 and 1976; Sion, Switzerland in 1976 and 1978; and the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978.

Since leaving home at the age of 16, Mihaela has traveled, studied, and played in many cities and countries in Europe. Her first stop was Bucharest, where she lived from 1970 to 1977 as a high school student and then as a student at the C. Porumbescu Music Conservatory (graduating in 1977). Her teachers there were Stefan Gheorghiu and Cornelia Bronzetti. She continued her studies with Tibor Varga at the Music Academy of Sion, Switzerland, and with André Gertler at the Summer Music Academy in Szombately, Hungary. From 1978 to 1980, she lived in Switzerland, where she received a performance certificate from the conservatory in Bern, and held a position in the orchestra of Biel-Bienne. During these summers, she played with the Luzern Fesitval Orchestra under Sergiu Celibidache.

Since coming to Chicago, Mihaela has been a member of the first violin section of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and was principal second violin of the Grant Park Symphony until 1987, when she was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti. In addition to solo recitals, she has performed with most local ensembles and her own chamber music group, the Athenaeum Ensemble. She also has appeared with members of the Vermeer Quartet at the Bay Chamber Festival in Rockport, Maine, and on the Dame Myra Hess recital series at the Chicago Public Library.

Mihaela and her husband, violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi, have two sons, Michael and David. Her top priorities are balancing her career and motherhood, but she greatly enjoys photography, interior design, gardening, and traveling.


Sando Shia

Sando Shia was born into a musical family in Wuhan China. Her father was a prominent professor of brass instruments and a well-known composer, and her mother was a chorus member with the Central Philharmonic Orchestra. Sando began piano lessons at the age of four and violin lessons at age five. She entered the Central Conservatory in Beijing when she was only twelve. While still in her early teens, Sando gave performances of concertos by Paganini, Bruch, and Wieniawski. During the Cultural Revolution, at the age of nineteen, she was sent with the other conservatory members to the countryside, where she worked in the rice fields for two years. After graduation from the conservatory, Sando joined the Central Ballet Company of China in Beijing as solo violinist and toured extensively in China and Europe with that company.

Sando came to the United States in 1980 at the invitation of Kent State University, where she lectured on and performed violin compositions of both China and the West. The following year, she won the Josef Gingold Award at the Ken/Blossom Music Festival.

The turning point of Sando’s career occurred in 1981, when she was awarded a full scholarship for study with legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. In his recommendation letter, Heifetz described her as “an extremely talented musician with exceptional ability; she was very important to my class.” Sando studied with Heifetz for four years. During that time, she also performed as soloist and in chamber music in the Los Angeles area, including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and a rare performance of Mozart’s Duo with Heifetz at a private party in which he played the violin and she performed viola.

Before joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1989 at the invitation of Sir George Solti, Sando held positions as Assistant Principal second violin of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Concertmaster of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.


Victor Yampolsky

Esteemed teacher, conductor, and violinist, Victor Yampolsky serves as Carol F. and Arthur L. Rice Jr. University Professor in Music Performance at the Northwestern University School of Music, Music Director of the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin; Music Director Emeritus of the Omaha Symphony, as well as the Honorary Director of the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Born in the Soviet Union in 1942, Yampolsky — the son of the great pianist Vladimir Yampolsky — studied violin with the legendary David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory and conducting with Maestro Nicolai Rabinovich at the Leningrad Conservatory. He was a member of the Moscow Philharmonic as both violinist and assistant conductor, under the direction of renowned Maestro Kyrill Kondrashin.

Yampolsky emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1973, where a recommendation from conductor Zubin Mehta led to an audition for Leonard Bernstein, who offered Yampolsky his scholarship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Mass. Two weeks later Mr. Yampolsky a position in the violin section of the Boston Symphony. He was later appointed the orchestra’s principal second violinist.

In 1977, Mr. Yampolsky became music director of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was the conductor of the Young Artists Orchestra at Tanglewood. Two years later he became Adjunct professor of violin and director of orchestras at the Boston University School of Music. Since 1979, he has participated in the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax as violinist and conductor, celebrating festival’s 25 years with the performance of Oliver Messiaen “TURANGALILA” Symphony on 13th of June 2004.

Yampolsky has conducted over 70 professional and student orchestras throughout the world, including repeated engagements with orchestras in the United States, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile. Forthcoming engagements include debut with the Eire, PA Symphony and return visits to Symphony Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada, Orquesta Sinfonica de Chile, KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic and Cape Philharmonic (Durban and Cape Town, South Africa). In 2007-2008, Yampolsky had been invited to serve as guest professor of conducting at the State Conservatory of Saint Petersburg.

This past year Mr. Yampolsky also gave lectures and master classes at: Emory University, University of Akron, University of Victoria, Stellenbosch Conservatory, as well as Cape Philharmonic Youth orchestra in Cape Town, South Africa.

In April 2008, Mr. Yampolsky served as a juror of the Prokofiev International Conducting Competition in St.Petersburg, Russia.

Since 1984, Yampolsky has been Director of Orchestras at Northwestern University, finishing 20 years of service with the performance of Mahler’s 9th Symphony on 4 June 2004 and producing first DVD of the symphony concert on January 27, 2007.

From 1992 to 1997 he directed the Storioni Ensemble, a professional string ensemble in residence at Northwestern University. Since 1986, Yampolsky has been Music Director of the Peninsula Music Festival, in Door County, Wisconsin. In 1993-94 he served as Principal Conductor of the National Symphony orchestra in Johannesburg and from 1995 until 2004 he served as Music Director of the Omaha Symphony, a period of significant artistic growth for the orchestra. In 2002, Yampolsky led the Omaha Symphony in its debut recording, Take Flight and the following year in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s Second Piano Concerto, which received an award of the Nebraska Arts Council. He holds an honorary doctorate from University of Nebraska at Omaha and Doane College in Crete, Nebraska.

In addition to his conducting and teaching obligations, Mr. Yampolsky has been a Panel Member of the ASOL conductors continuum committee helping young talented conductors in the USA.

Yampolsky has recorded for Pyramid and Kiwi-Pacific Records.

Victor Yampolsky currently lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife, Carol, and two children.


Loren Brown

Loren Brown has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1985, before which he was principal cellist of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for ten years. While in Milwaukee, Mr. Brown was also principal cello of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra and performed in Pro Musica Nova, a new music ensemble, in addition to giving numerous recitals and concerto and chamber music performances.

Since joining the Chicago Symphony, Loren has performed extensively with such ensembles as Chicago Pro Musica, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, and the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players. With these and other ensembles, he has concertized extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia, and has participated in several chamber music tours in Japan. Also in Japan, Loren served on the faculty of the Affinis Arts Foundation summer festival.

Loren was a featured soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in David Ott’s ‘Concerto for Two Cellos’, and also performed in the Chicago and New York premieres of Arvo Part’s ‘Passio’ with the Hilliard Ensemble of London. He has been a regular performer on the CSO’s chamber music series, and live on WFMT.

Loren’s early career began in Washington, D.C., where he spent four years as a member of the U.S. Navy String Quartet performing for dignitaries at the White House and the Department of State. He played on numerous occasions at the Philips and National Galleries and the Corcoran Art Gallery. Also while in Washington, he was principal cellist of the National Gallery Orchestra and the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra.


Patrick Jee

Korean-American cellist, Patrick Jee, is a rising star in the classical music world and is hailed as being a “gifted virtuoso with a satin-smooth singing line” by the distinguished critic, Harris Goldsmith. Already a seasoned veteran of the stage, Mr. Jee’s powerful performances have received accolades from audiences and critics alike. “Patrick Jee is a consummate soloist: charismatic, involved, technically brilliant, and refined. He is a complete musician,” said the American composer Ezra Laderman, whose Fantasy for Solo Cello he recorded for Albany Records. At the world premiere, New York Concert Review writes, “Ezra Laderman’s Fantasy for Solo Cello is a virtuosic tour-de-force and with hardly blinking an eyelid, the superb young cellist was able to throw the book right back at the composer, fulfill all of his wicked demands.”

In 2007, Mr. Jee won the Grand Prize at the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition earning him concert engagements in Mexico and a recording contract with the Urtext label. In addition, he has won prizes at the Andre Navarra Cello Competition, the Holland-America Music Society Competition, and the Irving Klein International String Competition.

Mr. Jee’s solo career has taken him across North America, Asia, and Europe with engagements by many orchestras including the Buffalo Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and the National Orchestra of Toulouse. After his performance of the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto with the Buffalo Philharmonic, conductor, Paul Ferington wrote, “He exudes warmth, energy, and control from his every pore. His technical mastery is amazing enough, but his gift of musicality is beyond any words to describe.”

As a recitalist and chamber musician, Mr. Jee has performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Kennedy Center, and Wigmore Hall. He has also been enthusiastically received at major music festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, the Caramoor Music Festival, La Jolla’s Summerfest, and at the Banff Center for the Arts Mr. Jee’s chamber group, Ensemble Ditto ( has been taking Korea by storm since it’s inception in 2007 playing to sold-out halls across the Korean peninsula. In 2003, he gave a special concert at the United Nations commemorating the Korean War armistice and has also appeared on CNN, Good Morning America hosted by Paula Zahn. He is also a member of the Selvaggi Piano Trio (

Mr. Jee holds a B.M. from the Juilliard School and a M.M. from Yale University School of Music where he studied with Aldo Parisot. He was recently appointed Assistant Principal Cello of the Lyric Opera of Chicago by Sir Andrew Davis and was the former Principal Cello of the Grant Park Orchestra. In addition to being on faculty at Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts he is an editor for the International Music Company. Mr. Jee plays on a cello by Bartolomeo Bimbi from Florence made in 1769.


John Sharp

Just four years out of the Juilliard School of Music, John Sharp found himself in the enviable position of being selected principal cello of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti. When he began, in the 1986-1987 season, he was, at 27, among the youngest players ever in a CSO principal chair. Yet his professional career did not begin in Chicago. He served as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and, from 1983 to 1986, as principal cello of the Cincinnati Symphony. Just before his arrival in Chicago in July 1986, he added third prize in Moscow’s prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition to his achievements. He has been a featured soloist here for a recording of Strauss’ Don Quixote, in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Itzhak Perlman and Daniel Barenboim, and in Britten’s Symphony for Cello and Orchestra with Mstislav Rostropovich conducting.

A native of Waco, Texas, John began to play cello in the public schools at age 10 and took his first private lessons at the age of 13 with Lev Aronson. Following a year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he enrolled at Juilliard, where he earned a master’s degree in music. While there, he studied with Lynn Harrell and appeared twice as soloist with Juilliard orchestras at Alice Tully Hall, including the New York premiere of Ned Rorem’s Remembering Tommy.

As principal cello of the New York String Orchestra under Alexander Schneider, he played in concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He also performed as soloist at Carnegie Hall with the Cincinnati Philharmonia. John’s work as a chamber musician has resulted in performances across the nation, including at the Marlboro Music Festival, with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at the summer chamber music festivals in Bridgehampton, Seattle, Santa Fe, Vail, and Angel Fire. He has performed chamber music with Pinchas Zukerman, Christoph Eschenbach, Richard Stoltzman, Misha Dichter, Itzhak Perlman, and the Vermeer Quartet. He frequently appears as soloist with other orchestras in the Chicago area. John is a professor of cello at Roosevelt University and coaches the cello section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

John plays a very rare cello made by Joseph Guarnerius in 1694.



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