Sejong Cultural Society


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past competitions

2009 Sejong Music Competition


Piano:  Kenneth Drake | Theodore Edel | Meng-Chieh Liu
Violin:  Guillaume Combet | Stefan Milenkovich | Thomas Wermuth


Kenneth Drake

Kenneth DrakeKenneth Drake was an early exponent of interpreting music of the classic period on early pianos.  Using English Broadwoods and a copy of an Anton Walter fortepiano, as well as the modern piano, he has played recitals and conducted workshops for colleges and universities, the Cambridge Early Music Society, the Smithsonian, the Midwest Historic Keyboard Society, the Michigan Mozartfest, the Taipei National University of the Arts, and national conventions of Music Teachers National Association.  Mr. Drake is professor emeritus in the School of Music of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, having taught previously in the University of Evansville (Indiana) and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  He is the author of two books, The Beethoven Sonatas as He Played and Taught Them, his doctoral thesis, and The Beethoven Sonatas and the Creative Experience, published by Indiana University Press.



Theodore Edel

Theodore EdelPianist Theodore Edel’s tours in the United States, Europe, and the Far East, as recitalist and soloist with orchestra, have brought him much critical applause. Describing his Liszt Years of Pilgrimage, the New York Times said: “Mr. Edel has the heroic technique these works demand. His interpretations were passionate, yet tempered by intellect, and he made the music convincing.” The Washington Post called him a "superb lyricist" and found his performances "filled with drama".

A native of New York City, Theodore Edel holds Bachelor and Master’s Degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Jacob Lateiner. He earned his Doctorate and the Harold Bauer Award at the Manhattan School of Music under Constance Keene. A Fulbright Grant sent him to Rome for a year, during which he concertized throughout Italy and played before the Italian Parliament. At his London debut in Wigmore Hall, the Daily Telegraph called him “clearly one of a new breed of serious artists.” His subsequent New York debut was launched by an Artists International Management Award at Carnegie Recital Hall.

Dr. Edel has performed throughout the United States on recital series, in radio broadcasts, and as a concerto soloist with orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony and the Grant Park Symphony. As a Professor of Piano at the University of Illinois at Chicago (now Professor Emeritus) he has been particularly active in the Midwest, appearing often in chamber music concerts with members of the Chicago Symphony. His all-Liszt CD was released on the Cadenza label.

Theodore Edel has given solo recitals in Israel, Austria, Hungary, France, Germany, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. He is also an author: his book Piano Music for One Hand (Indiana University Press) was the first study of its kind and he is often invited to perform and discuss music for the left hand alone.

Theodore Edel has given master classes at the major conservatories of Israel, Russia, Taiwan, Korea, and Austria, at dozens of American universities, and for professional music teachers’ organizations. In the Chicago-area competitions his students have been frequent first-prize winners.



Meng-Chieh Lieu

Meng-Chieh LieuRecipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, Meng-Chieh Liu first made headlines in 1993 as a 21-year-old student at The Curtis Institute of Music when he substituted at last minute's notice for André Watts at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The concert earned high acclaim from critics and audience alike, and was followed by a number of widely praised performances, including a recital at the Kennedy Center and a concert on the Philadelphia All-Star Series. Already an accomplished artist at the time, Mr. Liu had made his New York orchestral debut two years earlier.

Following Mr. Liu's triumph in Philadelphia, an appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra was immediately scheduled, but it was not to be. The stellar beginning of his career was abruptly halted by a rare and debilitating illness that affected his connective tissues. Hospitalized and almost immobile for a year, doctors believed his chances for survival were slim and, should he survive, playing the piano would be "absolutely impossible."  With arduous determination and relentless physical therapy, Mr. Liu has been restored to full health and is now once again performing on the concert stage. Since his miraculous recuperation, his performance schedule has included appearances in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas, Seattle and San Diego, as well as concerts in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Bulgaria, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and South America.  In 2006, Mr. Liu undertook a two-year project of the complete Schubert Sonatas, performing in San Francisco, Boston, Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. 

A dedicated chamber musician as well as solo artist, Meng-Chieh Liu has collaborated with musicians in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, in addition to working with artists in other disciplines, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, who invited him to work with his White Oak Dance Project. His concerts have been heard over the airwaves around the world, and a biography on his life was broadcast on Taiwanese National Television. A book on his life is set for publication in the upcoming year.

Born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Meng-Chieh Liu began his piano studies early, and at age thirteen was accepted by The Curtis Institute of Music to study with Jorge Bolet, Claude Frank, and Eleanor Sokoloff. He received the 2002 Philadelphia Musical Fund Society Career Advancement Award and first prizes in the Stravinsky, Asia Pacific and Mieczyslaw Munz piano competitions. Mr. Liu has been a member of The Curtis Institute's faculty since 1993, the year of his graduation. In the fall of 2006, he joined the piano faculty at Roosevelt University in Chicago.



Guillame Combet

Guillame CombetGuillaume Combet, violin, was born in France and studied with world renowned artist Gerard Poulet for nine years.  He also studied with Sylvie Gazeau and Jean Moulliere at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris where he graduated with a First Prize in Violin and a First Prize in Chamber Music.  He subsequently moved to the United States where he received his Advanced Certificate from The Juilliard School, studying with the late William Lincer, and Joel Smirnoff and Robert Mann of the Juilliard String Quartet.

Mr. Combet has had extensive experience as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player and pedagogue.  Mr. Combet has been concertmaster of the Chicago Civic Orchestra under Maestro Barenboim and Maestro Boulez, soloist and assistant concertmaster of the Chicago String Ensemble, has performed with the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, and as principal second violin with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under Maestro Ozawa. Mr. Combet has performed solo with the Orchestre Symphonique de Tours, toured throughout Europe with Les Virtuoses de France and traveled internationally as the first violinist of the West End String Quartet, better known as Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues. In addition to an active performing career in the Chicago area, he presently performs with some of the most well-known orchestras in the Chicago area—Chicago Philharmonic, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Ars Viva, and Chicago Opera Theater.  Last year he also performed for the full season with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  He has performed on chamber music concert series including the WFMT Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, Mostly Music Concert Series, Sheridan Chamber Players, and the Craftsbury Chamber Players.  Mr. Combet teaches violin and chamber music at the Merit School of Music and the University of Illinois at Chicago.



Stefan Milenkovich

Stefan MilenkovichViolinist Stefan Milenkovich is recognized internationally for both exceptional artistry and his life-long commitment to humanitarianism.

Mr. Milenkovich started his career at a very young age, performing with his first orchestra at the age of five. At age 7, he won the grand prize at the Jaroslav Kozian International Violin Competition. This unprecedented accomplishment opened opportunities and invitations to perform concerts in over 30 countries. At the age of 16, Mr. Milenkovich played his 1000th concert in Monterrey, Mexico. That same year, he was either a prizewinner or finalist in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (USA), the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium), Hannover Violin Competition (Germany), Tibor Varga Competition (Switzerland), Rodolfo Lipizer Competition (Italy), Paganini Competition (Italy), Ludwig Spohr Competition (Germany), and the Yehudi Menuhin Competition (England). 

He came to international attention when at age 10, he was invited to perform for the late U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, at the White House "Christmas Show". This performance was followed by an invitation from the former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, to perform in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.  He has also performed twice for Pope John Paul II in Castelgandolfo, Italy. His international orchestral appearances include the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Belgrade Philharmonic, the Orchestra of Radio-France, the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Mexico State Symphony, the Orquestra Sinfonica de Estado de Sao Paolo in Brazil, and the Melbourne and Queensland Symphonies in Australia. He has worked with such renowned conductors as Lorin Maazel, Daniel Oren, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Lu Jia, Lior Shambadal and En Shao, among others. In 2002, he was proclaimed "Artist of the 20th Century" in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. 

Mr. Milenkovich is deeply committed to international humanitarian causes. He was appointed "Child Ambassador" of the First Children Embassy founded in Medjasi, Yugoslavia, during the war in Bosnia. In 2002, he received the "Lifting Up the World With Oneness Heart" award for his humanitarian activities, handed to him personally by the guru Sri Chinmoy. Most recently, he received the 2003 "Most Humane Person" award in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He also participated in a number of gala concerts under the auspices of UNESCO in Paris, with such artists as Placido Domingo, Lorin Maazel, Alexis Weissenberg and Yehudi Menuhin. 

Mr. Milenkovich's 2009-10 season includes performances with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra (Croatia), Classic FM M-Tel Orchestra (Bulgaria), Varazdin Chamber Orchestra (Croatia), Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra (Macedonia), The Prairie Ensemble (US), as well as recitals and chamber music performances at the Ravinia Festival (Chicago), Manchester Music Festival (Vermont), Zagreb International Music Festival (Zagreb, Croatia), Ljubljana Festival (Slovenia), Jupiter Chamber Music Series (New York City).

Mr. Milenkovich's discography includes 4 commercial releases on the Italian label Dynamic, and numerous recordings for the Yugoslavian label, PGP.  After teaching at the Juilliard School's Pre-College Division for several years, he has recently assumed the position of Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.



Thomas Wermuth

Thomas WermuthThomas Wermuth studied the violin at the Juilliard School in New York, where he was a student of Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay. In 1974, he moved to Canada to join the Kitchener - Waterloo Symphony as assistant concertmaster. During the fifteen years there, Tom played both violin and viola in the orchestra, and was a member of the Canadian Chamber Ensemble.

In addition to his extensive performance career, Mr. Wermuth has dedicated his life to teaching young students at the Western Springs School of Talent Education. Tom's teaching follows the philosophy of the great teaching pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki. Mr. Wermuth enjoys an international reputation as a guest clinician and registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Mr. Wermuth’s students have consistantly performed on the Young Steinway Recital Series and are regularly chosen to perform in the Master Classes for the national conference of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. His students have won first place in the West Suburban, Walgreens, Music Chorale and the Chinese Fine Arts Competitions. As a result of his students placing in the National Foudation for the Advancement of the Arts, Mr. Wermuth was awarded the Presidential Scholars Teacher Recognition Award. Thomas Wermuth is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing.



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