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Education and support behind 'K-classics phenomenon' Updated: 2022-06-30 12:03:30 KST

An 18-year-old pianist who brought the conductor to tears.
The youngest ever gold-medalist of the Van Cliburn competition is Lim Yunchan.
But Lim is not the only Korean to enjoy such accolades recently.
Just weeks before Lim's win, violinist Yang In-mo became the first Korean winner of the Sibelius Violin Competition and cellist Choi Ha-young won the Queen Elisabeth competition.
That's making people around the world notice this so-called "Korean phenomenon."
So how did South Korea become home to these stars?

Experts say it's down to the public education system and dedicated teachers.
Korea National University of Arts a state-run specialist institution, is where Lim got his classical education.

"We figure out each student's strengths and weaknesses and teach them accordingly. We would like to call it customized education."

The state-funded Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts serves as a preliminary school for the university.
It has been discovering prodigies and giving them lessons for free.

"Not just the school itself, they need to go to competitions and there are many other costs, and our school provides many other scholarships besides the school tuition."

Students enter through auditions and get one-on-one lessons from university professors.

"We get to learn theories, and get to practice basic musical notes along with taking orchestra and chamber classes."

"Education and dedicated teachers are not the only things needed for young artists to bloom.
They also need a chance to perform on big stages and use high-quality instruments… and there is one foundation that helps with this.”

Since 1993, the Kumho Cultural Foundation lets young classical artists borrow the best quality instruments.
Among those who've benefited from this is cellist Choi Ha-young.
The foundation also offers a debut stage, and lets artists hold concerts through its "Artist in Residence" system.
Both pianist Sunwoo Yekwon, and violinist Yang In-mo have held such concerts.

"Young artists especially do not have much chance to be invited to the stage or come up with their own performance program. By being on stage at Kumho Art Hall, they can not only practice their techniques but also deeply understand their own music spectrum and enhance their creativity."

For more such gifted artists to show their capability, the expert asks public to let them develop.

"Ironically, what these artists need is indifference. Legendary pianist Maurizio Pollini disappeared for several years after topping the Chopin piano competition. He broadened his musical boundaries. They need such time. Artists like Lim, they are just in their 20s, only have lived one quarter of their lives and we need to help them develop their own traits as artists."

Experts also say now is time to pay attention to other areas like Korea having its own overseas management agency for classical artists and supporting other classical sectors such as orchestras.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.
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