2017 Sejong Music Competition Judges

Primary and Elementary divisions: Hyejin Joo | Young Whun Kim
Junior and Senior divisions: Ludmila Lazar | Daniel Pesca | George Vatchnadze
Primary and Elementary divisions: Seul Lee | Youngsin Seo
Junior and Senior divisions: So Young Bae | Bing Grant | Mihaela Ionescu


Hyejin Joo

piano primary and elementary

Native of South Korea, pianist Hyejin Joo won various awards from the Wideman International Piano Competition, Northwestern Concerto Competition, Indiana University Concerto Competition, Seoul National University Concerto Competition, Chautauqua Competition, Thaviu-Isaak Competition, Plowman Chamber Music Competition and Kumho Art Foundation Competition.

She received her Bachelors of Music from the Seoul National University where she was awarded the entrance scholarship with honors and the scholarship of academic excellence during the school years. She was granted the position of Associate Instructor upon entering the Indiana University, where she received her Masters of Music degree and a Performer Diploma with full scholarship, studying with Arnaldo Cohen. She appeared in Banff Centre, Chautauqua Fletcher Hall, Pick-Staiger Hall and performed with the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra as the winner of the concerto/aria competition. She was invited to perform Schnittke Concerto for Piano and Strings with the Bienen String Orchestra the following year, under the baton of Victor Yampolsky. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music, studying with Alan Chow.

She had the privilege to study with Fabio Bidini, Gerald Fauth, Piotr Paleczny, Matti Raekallio, Boris Slutsky, Nelita True, John O’conor, Stephen Hough, Garrick Ohlsson, Yoshikazu Nagai and Marietta Orlov in masterclasses and music festivals in Leipzig, Berlin, Beijing, Banff and Chautauqua. She was also selected to participate in the Gilmore Keyboard Masterclasses by Northwestern Faculty recommendation. As a member of the Chicago based Stellio Trio, she recently worked with Emanuel Ax and the Dover Quartet and was invited as guest artist from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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Young Whun Kim

piano primary and elementary

A native of Seoul, South Korea, pianist Young Whun Kim is an active soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist both in the United States and South Korea.

He began piano studies at the age of 7. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Seoul National University in South Korea, where he studied with Kwi-Hyun Kim and Sung-Kyun Lee. In 2007, he moved to the United States to continue graduate studies at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where he served as an Associate Instructor for the Piano Division, teaching group piano classes and private lessons for undergraduate non-performance piano majors. While there, Kim studied with Shigeo Neriki and received his Master of Music and Performer’s Diploma in piano performance in 2010. Kim is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance and literature at the University of Illinois under the tutelage of Ian Hobson. Additional studies include collaborative piano with Dennis Helmrich, and harpsichord with Elisabeth Wright.

As a dedicated collaborative pianist and chamber musician, Kim has performed in a wide variety of vocal recitals and chamber music concerts. He has performed in many Guest Artist Recital Series, most recently with bassist Michael Cameron at DePaul University, Ball State University, Butler University and the University of Illinois. In the summer of 2015, Kim joined the Illinois Summer Youth Music Festival as a collaborative pianist. His extensive participation as a studio pianist includes working with such renowned musicians as Janos Starker, Ik-Hwan Bae, Stefan Milenkovich, and Teresa Kubiak. He has also participated in numerous chamber music masterclasses with such world-class musicians as Gil Shaham, Janos Starker, and Renee Fleming. He has also served as an opera coach in the Chamber Opera Association in Seoul, South Korea. He is currently working as a collaborative pianist and coach for the University of Illinois’s String Division and Lyric Theatre@illinois.

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Ludmila Lazar

piano junior and senior

Ludmila Lazar is acknowledged internationally for her stylistic versatility and intense musicality. Acclaimed in Europe and the United States for her commitment to a diverse and challenging repertoire, Dr. Lazar's recitals and workshops reflect her involvement with multi-cultural music and authentic performance practice. Chicago critics describe Dr. Lazar's playing as "inspirational and informative."

Her students have been winners in local, regional, national, and international competitions. In recognition of her teaching, she received the Master Teacher Certificate from the Music Teachers National Association, and was awarded the title of Master Teacher by the American Musical Scholarship Association. She was also elected by the Roosevelt University community as "Outstanding Teacher of the Year."

A graduate of the Ljubljana Central Music School in Slovenia, she later advanced her studies with Rudolph Ganz at Chicago Musical College (now the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University) where she received a Master's degree, and at Northwestern University where she earned a D.M.A.

Dr. Lazar's notable achievements have secured her a place of recognition with the American Keyboard Artists and the Who's Who in the American Music World.

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Daniel Pesca

piano junior and senior

Daniel Pesca, pianist and composer, is both a passionate advocate for new music and a committed performer of the chamber music repertoire. He has shared the stage with many leading new music ensembles, including Ensemble Signal, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Eastman BroadBand, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Ensemble Dal Niente. He has recently performed at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the Arts Club of Washington, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, the Teatro Diana in Guadalajara, on the Dame Myra Hess concerts in Chicago, at June in Buffalo, and at festivals devoted to contemporary music in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Vermont.

Among his concerto credits are a performance of the Elliott Carter Double Concerto at Carnegie Hall, as well as solo appearances with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Slee Sinfonietta, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the Oberlin Sinfonietta. Daniel is featured on CDs from Centaur Records, Block M Records, and Urtext Classics—including a recording of Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s piano concerto, Diaries, dedicated to Daniel. His recording of the music of Joseph Schwantner, with flutist Sarah Frisof, was released on Centaur Records in July 2016. He holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, where he led a class on contemporary piano music and studied with Nelita True. He has held teaching positions at Ithaca College and Syracuse University. He is currently artist-in-residence and director of the chamber music program at the University of Chicago, where he collaborates frequently with faculty and student composers.

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George Vatchnadze

piano junior and senior

George Vatchnadze has appeared with orchestras and in recital throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Israel, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, as well as Central and South America. He has performed at the Hollywood Bowl Festival, Ravinia Festival, Stresa Festival, and Rotterdam Philharmonic’s “Philips Gergiev” Festival. He has also been a frequent guest of St. Petersburg’s “White Nights” and “Mikkeli” (Finland) festivals. In 1997 Mr. Vatchnadze made a sensational recital debut at the prestigious Edinburgh International Music Festival and received the “Herald Angel Award” presented by the “Scottish Herald” newspaper. He has appeared on live broadcasts of the Dutch National Radio, BBC and NPR’s “Performance Today”. In 1999 Mr. Vatchnadze made his New York recital debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Critic and writer Faubion Bowers wrote in American Record Guide: “Vatchnadze is a consummate artist, now at the height of his musical and intellectual powers. He can do absolutely anything he wants at the piano. He commands delicate pianissimi, massive diapasons and everything in between”.

Mr. Vatchnadze’s engagements have included performances with the Mariinsky Orchestra under the direction of Gianandrea Noseda, at the St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater and London’s Covent Garden, as well as appearances at the Salzburg Festival, Maggio Musicale Festival, Stresa Festival, Gilmore Festival, Ravenna Festival, London’s Wigmore Hall, and others.

His most recent engagements include appearances at the Osaka Symphony hall with Japan Century orchestra, Great Philharmonic Hall and Mariinsky Piano festival in St. Petersburg, Stravisnky and Shostakovich Festivals in Washington DC, Woodstock Festival (NY), Stanford Stravinsky Festival, Pacific Symphony Rachmaninoff Festival, SYArts Festival in Taiwan, performances in Japan, Georgia, Italy and others.

Mr. Vatchnadze recorded Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 and Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand with the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Jansug Kakhidze. The recordings were reissued several times and received the highest critical acclaim. The recording of Prokofiev Sonatas was just released in Japan on Triton label. In addition to this recording, Mr. Vatchadze’s two new recordings are being released this year - Gia Kancheli piano music and the live performance of Rachmanoniff Piano concerto no.3 in Japan.

Mr. Vatchnadze studied at the Tbilisi Central Music School for Gifted Children, Tbilisi State Conservartory, Mannes College of Music and Indiana University, where his teachers were Wanda Shiukashvili, Arkady Aronov and Alexander Toradze. He is a winner of numerous International Piano Competitions including 1994 Gina Bachauer Competition, 1998 Palm Beach Invitational Competition, 1996 Alabama competition, and 1997 World Piano Competition.

Mr. Vatchnadze is the Associate Professor at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. Throughout his teaching carrier, his students have won top prizes at the numerous international competitions and have performed extensively throughout the world.

Mr. Vatchnadze is a founder and artistic director of the Villa Sandra International Piano Academy in Lesa (Lago Maggiore),Italy.

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Seul Lee

violin primary and elementary

A native of South Korea, violinist Seul Lee has performed solo, chamber, and orchestral music in South Korea, France, and the United States. She has won several competitions in Korea, including the Suwon University Competition, and was featured as the soloist with the Korean Wind Ensemble. In 2007, Lee served as concertmaster for the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra Academy under maestro Myung Whun Chung. Lee's extensive orchestral experience in the United States includes playing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Lee received her Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Seoul National University and her Master of Music degree from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with Mauricio Fuks. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree at the University of Illinois under the tutelage of Stefan Milenkovich. She has also studied with renowned violinists Ik-Hwan Bae and Sung Sic Yang. Lee has performed in master classes given by Pamela Frank, Midori Goto, Ik-Hwan Bae, Janos Starker, the Cleveland String Quartet and the Jupiter String Quartets.

As an active string quartet player, Lee performed Mendelssohn's Octet at the Krannert Art Museum and the DOCHA Music Festival alongside members of the Jupiter Quartet and other faculty members. Lee won the University of Illinois symphony concerto competition in 2014, landing a performance as soloist playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, she has performed in the 2017 Guest Artist Recital at Olivet Nazarene University and in the REGAIL Music Series at Indiana State University and Eastern Illinois University. She is currently serving as a substitute for the Minnesota Orchestra.

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Youngsin Seo

violin primary and elementary

Youngsin Seo, a native of South Korea, is an active soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. Seo has performed in numerous venues including Seoul Arts Center in Korea, University of Bucharest in Romania, and Colby College in the United States.

As an active orchestral player, Seo has been playing with many orchestras both in the United States and South Korea including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the KBS Symphony Orchestra. She is a former member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and currently plays with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.

Seo holds Doctor of Music in Violin Performance with minor in music theory from Indiana University under the mentorship of Mark Kaplan. She was awarded Artistic Excellence Award, Music Merit Award, and R. Parr Septer Music Scholarship by the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University.

Seo has received several awards from competitions including Hyubsung University Competition, Anyang University Competition, and Gimpo University Competition.

Passionate about community outreach, Seo performs regularly with Sound of Hope ensemble, serving as a board member of the organization that aims to bring the joy of music to the community. Seo is a faculty at the IUPUI Music Academy.

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So Young Bae

violin junior and senior

A native of Busan, South Korea, violinist So Young Bae is an active soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player both in the United States and South Korea.

Bae has received numerous awards from competitions including first prize in the Busan Music Association Competition, second prize in the Korea-America National Competition, Gold medal in the Se-Jong University Competition, second prize in the Taegu Broadcasting Competition, and second prize in Nanpa Music Competition. She is also the recipient of various scholarships, including the Joseph Fuchs Scholarship, Knafel Askin Violin Scholarship and Samuel Gardner Grant.

As an active soloist, Bae recently won the Stony Brook Concerto Competition, and will be performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in the 2012/13 season. Bae is an active chamber music musician, and has collaborated with artists such as members of the Emerson Quartet, Colin Carr and Tina Dahl.

As an orchestral player, Bae has recently joined Chicago Symphony Orchestra appointed by Music Director Riccardo Muti in July 2012. In the past, she has performed with the New York City Ballet Orchestra for its 2012 winter season and with New World Symphony Orchestra. She has also toured Europe with the Juilliard Orchestra under the baton of James DePriest in 2005 and China under Xian Zhang in 2008.

Bae has participated in many festivals over the years including the Aspen Music Festival (2008) and Music Academy of the West (2006), where she was a fellowship recipient. She has also attended Kneisal Hall (2007), Sarasota Music Festival (2006, 2007) and the 2007 Juilliard ChamberFest. In the summers of 2009, 2010 and 2011, Bae was invited to participate in the orchestra of the Verbier Music Festival.

Bae began her studies of the violin at the age of 7. At age 18, she was honored with the rare distinction of early admission at the Seoul National University. She obtained both her Bachelor and Master’s degrees at the Juilliard School, where she was a student of Stephen Clapp and Sylvia Rosenberg. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree as a full-scholarship student and violin teaching assistant at Stony Brook University studying with Soovin Kim and Philip Setzer.

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Bing Grant

violin junior and senior

Violinist Bing Grant is currently a member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra.

As a soloist, she has performed with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. She has played recitals in the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Young Artists Showcase, Jordan Hall, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Federal Reserve Bank Series.

As a member of the Samson Trio, she was showcased on WGBH, Classics in the Morning. She was also a member of the International Trio, a group who recorded Works by Ami Mayyani, released by IMP. The International Trio toured Israel and played the Triple Concerto by Beethoven with the Tel-Aviv Campus Symphony Orchestra. She also performed with the Meeting House Chamber Music Festival.

In addition to Chicago's Lyric, Ms. Grant has played with The Grant Park Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, the Contata Singers and Ensemble in Boston, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and the Boston Ballet. She has served as Concert Master for the New World Symphony, the Gardner Museum Chamber Orchestra, the Chadam Choral, and the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra. She was the associate Concert Master for Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic.

Ms. Grant studied with Roman Totenberg and Masuko Ushioda. Her chamber music coaches include Isidore Cohen, Felix Galimir, Leon Kirchner, Gilbert Kalish, Eugene Lehner, Arnold Steinhardt, Jaime Laredo, and Lorand Fenyves. She has performed chamber music with musicians such as Richard Stoltzman, John Gibbons and Lawrence Lesser.

Ms. Grant made her Carnegie debut in 1992, playing the Bach Double Concerto with the New York String Orchestra under the late Alexander Schneider.

She lives in Chicago with her three children and forever contemplating a pet they are not allergic to.

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Mihaela Ionescu

violin junior and senior

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.

Ionescu 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 7, 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 9, Ionescu 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, Ionescu 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 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 Festival Orchestra under Sergiu Celibidache.

Since coming to Chicago, Ionescu has been a member of the first violin section of the Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago 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 has two adult sons, Michael and David, and two grandchildren. Her top priorities are balancing her career and family, but she greatly enjoys photography, interior design, gardening and traveling.

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