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2011 Sejong Music Competition


Piano:  Winston Choi | Sung-Mi Im | George Vatchnadze
Violin:  Ik-Hwan Bae | Hermine Gagné | Stephanie Jeong


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, Berlin’s “Klavierfieber” Festival 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. For the 2011-12 season and beyond, Choi is touring with Bach's epic Art of Fugue. An accomplished chamber musician, he tours regularly with his wife, MingHuan Xu as Duo Diorama, as well as with the ensemble Pivot Chamber Soloists and the Civitas Ensemble.

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, John Corigliano, 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 and the Chicago-based Ensemble Dal Niente.  His upcoming performances include piano concerti by Jeffrey Mumford, John Melby and Jacques Lenot.

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 of the piano music of Jacques Lenot for the Intrada label, having won the Grand Prix du Disque from l’Académie Charles Cros for Volume I.  Other labels he can be heard on include Albany, AMP, Arktos, Crystal Records, Naxos 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. 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. An accomplished teacher, he is in frequent demand as a master class clinician and presenter.

His website can be found at



Sung-Mi Im

A native of Korea, Ms. Sung-Mi Im began her piano studies at the age of three with her mother. After making a successful debut with Daegu Symphony Orchestra at the age of nine, she continued her studies at Seoul National University and Boston University where she received Dean’s scholarship and Master’s degree in Performance.

She has won numerous competitions such as Dong-A Newspaper Competition, Ye-Um Chamber Music Competition in Korea, and Kahn Award in Boston. Tong-Il Han and Kwi-Hyun Kim were among her teachers.

Appearing in many international festivals, she has won praises from the audiences and critics alike from Kusatsu Music Festival, Moon Beach Festival in Japan, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival in Alaska, Bargemusic in New York, Tucson Chamber Music Festival, and  Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland among many.

Solo and chamber music recitals in the cities of London, Montreal, Dallas, Boston, Seoul and New York, the appearances with various orchestras in Korea and Jupiter Symphony in New York City in the series of Piano Concertos were met with much acclaim.
She has taught piano at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea and is currently teaching chamber music at Indiana University.



George Vatchnadze

George Vatchnadze joins the DePaul faculty as Associate Professor of Piano and Coordinator of the Keyboard Program in September 2011.

He 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. Among others, 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 several performances with the Kirov 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 New York’s Miller Theater.

His most recent engagements include appearances at Strathmore Hall in Washington DC, Woodstock Festival (NY), Stanford Stravinsky Festival, Pacific Symphony Rachmaninoff Festival, residency at SYArts Festival in Taiwan, performances in Japan, and others.

Mr. Vatchnadze has also served on the jury of 2008 and 2009 and 2011 World Piano Competitions.

His recordings with Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and Jansug Kakhidze featuring Rachmaninoff and Ravel Concertos received highest critical acclaim worldwide.

Mr. Vatchnadze is a winner of numerous International Piano Competitions including 1st prizes at 1998 Palm Beach invitational Competition, 1996 Alabama competition, 1997 World Piano Competition, and the 4th prize at 1994 Gina Bachauer Competition.



Ik-Hwan Bae

Ik-Hwan Bae was born in Seoul, Korea and made his professional debut with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of 12. He studied at the Juilliard School and has been a very busy person ever since. His performances in recitals and concerto concerts has taken him to most of the major cities in Europe, Asia and the United States.

In 1985, he received the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and also was a prize winner at the Munich International Competition in 1984. In 1986, he was a recipient of the Solo Recitalist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

As an enthusiastic participant in many of the world's best chamber music festivals, he has been seen everywhere from Seoul to Alaska. He was an artistic director of the Bargemusic Ltd., one of the leading presenters of chamber music in New York City, for thirteen years until 1995.

Much sought after as a pedagogue, Mr. Bae has taught at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Korean National Institutes for the Arts. Every year he gives master classes worldwide.

Currently he is professor at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University.

Mr. Bae has been a jury member of the Munich ARD competition in Germany, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark, the Benjamin Britten International Violin Competition in London, and the Jean Sibelius International Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland.

Mr. Bae has recorded for the RCA, ECM, Delos, and Koch labels.



Hermine Gagné

Hermine Gagné was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1979. She began studying the violin at the age of four with Jacqueline S. David. At nine years old, she entered the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and graduated in 2000 with honors. While pursuing a master’s degree under instructor Kathleen Winkler at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Hermine was awarded the Sallie Shepherd Perkins Prize for Highest Achievement in Music. In addition, she received scholarships from the Canadian Council for the Arts and was loaned the 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivarius violin from 2003 to 2006.

Hermine made her solo debut at the age of sixteen with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. During her time studying in Montreal, she was a member of the Foresome Quartet from 1997 to 2000. The quartet received the grand prize of the Canadian Music Competition and performed at prestigious Montreal venues. Hermine also collaborated with some of Quebec’s leading performance ensembles, such as Les Violons du Roy, La Pietà, and L’Orchestre Symphonique de Laval.

In February 2003, Hermine was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her orchestral contributions, she performs on both the Orchestra’s chamber music and educational series around the Chicago area. Hermine also is a member of Chicago’s Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra. In October 2007, she performed Dvořák’s Violin Concerto with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.



Stephanie Jeong

Violinist Stephanie Jeong was appointed Associate Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2011 by Music Director Riccardo Muti. Prior to joining the CSO, she was a member of the New York Philharmonic from 2010-2011. The top prize winner and recipient of the Best Paganini Concerto Prize of the 2008 Paganini Violin Competition in Italy, Jeong made her solo debut at age 12 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as winner of its Feinburg Competition and with The Philadelphia Orchestra as winner of its Albert M. Greenfield Competition. She won the Greenfield Prize again in 2002 and 2006, and performed as featured soloist on The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Best of Tchaikovsky series conducted by Rossen Milanov.

Stephanie Jeong made her Aspen Music Festival debut as the winner of Aspen’s AACA Concerto Competition and returned the following year as the winner of the DeLay Fellowship Award, performing the Walton Violin Concerto with the Aspen Concert Orchestra, led by James Gaffigan. She has also appeared as soloist with the Jacksonville Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, and Kansas City Symphony orchestras, among other ensembles.

Jeong has collaborated in chamber music performances with artists such as violinists Cho-Liang Lin and David Kim, pianist Wu Han, and cellist Peter Wiley. She has performed in recital with pianist Hugh Sung at the Raymond F. Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and The Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City. She recently made her recital debut at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

A native of East Rutherford, New Jersey, Stephanie Jeong began her studies in New York with Nicole DiCecco at the Suzuki Program Music School. At the age of 3 she moved to Chicago where she studied with Betty Haag Kuhnke at the Betty Haag Academy of Performing Arts. In 1997, at the age of 9, Jeong became one of the youngest students ever accepted to The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she studied with Aaron Rosand. She received her bachelor’s degree from Curtis and completed her master’s degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Cho-Liang Lin and Ronald Copes.



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