|Korean baritone Kim Tae-han performs during the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Saturday (local time). Courtesy of Kumho Cultural Foundation|
22-year-old becomes first Asian male singer to win prestigious competition
By Dong Sun-hwa
Baritone Kim Tae-han won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition for voice, becoming the first Asian male singer to pull off the feat since the addition of the voice section in 1988.
The 22-year-old was crowned the winner during an awards ceremony in the Belgian capital, Saturday (local time). The youngest among all finalists, Kim will receive 25,000 euros ($27,000) in prize money.
Launched in 1937, the Queen Elisabeth Competition is a contest held in Brussels, Belgium for career-starting classical violinists, pianists, singers and cellists.
"I am very glad to get a good result after working hard," Kim said through Kumho Cultural Foundation, Sunday. "I am so happy that I cannot think of anything right now … (In the days ahead,) I would like to have lots of opportunities to perform as an opera singer. I will work even harder, so please keep your eyes on me."
During the finals, he sang four songs, including Richard Wagner's "O, du mein holder Abendstern" and Gustav Mahler's "Ich hab' ein gluhend Messer (D minor)." He edged out Jasmin White of the U.S. and Russian/German Julia Muzychenko-Greenhalgh, who ranked second and third, respectively. Korean bass Jeong In-ho claimed fifth place.
|Korean baritone Kim Tae-han poses while holding a congratulatory message sent from Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo-gyoon. The minister sent the message shortly after Kim became the first Asian male singer to win the Queen Elisabeth Competition for voice, Saturday (local time). Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism|
"Kim's victory has created a powerful moment by engraving K-classic's global influence in people's minds," Park said. "I would like to give a warm round of applause for Kim's great sensitivity, tenacity and musical passion. I am confident that K-classic will broaden its horizons at a faster pace thanks to his win. I and Korean nationals will support him so that his beautiful voice can bring comfort to more people around the world."
Kim, a student of the College of Music at Seoul National University, has taken home numerous awards at international contests, such the Neue Stimmen international singing competition (2022) and the Concorso Internazionale Riccardo Zandonai (2022).
Jo Su-mi, the first Korean artist to win a Grammy award in 1992, was one of the judges for this year's Queen Elisabeth Competition.
"I am proud to see so many Korean and Asian artists these days," she said. "As I worked as a judge, I was once again convinced that our Korean vocalists are truly world-class."
Before Kim, Korean sopranos Hong Hae-ran (2011) and Hwang Su-mi (2014) clinched the top prize for voice, as did Lim Ji-young (2015) for violin and Choi Ha-young (2022) for the cello.