June 7, 2017. Yekwon Sunwoo performs with the Brentano String Quartet in the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Ralph Lauer)
By TIMOTHY MANGAN
Yekwon Sunwoo showed up on Skype at the appointed time recently, or rather his voice did. He initially preferred not to appear on screen — 24 hours of travel from Poland to Aspen the day before had left him disheveled, he implied — but soon enough he came on camera, his thick black hair slightly tousled perhaps, but otherwise looking fresh and fit in a pair of Clark Kent glasses and a light cardigan sweater.
Sunwoo is otherwise a superman. In June, he became the first Korean to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, doing it with a series of knucklebusters that included Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata and Prokofiev’s Sixth, Ravel’s “La Valse” and, in the finals, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (all of which can be seen and heard online at the competition’s website.) Since then, life has been a whirlwind for the 28-year-old musician.
“It’s been hectic,” Sunwoo says. “Like right after winning, for about a week I had some meetings, and a photo session which went about four hours straight. Everything was happening kind of quickly and they already had concerts lined up. I had to decide everything pretty much all at once, in a short time.
“The concert tour started in the middle of July, I went to Steamboat Springs (Colorado), the Grand Teton Music Festival, which was wonderful, and the Spencer Theater in Roswell, New Mexico. Then I was in Italy for concerts, Germany, Poland. I’m really enjoying it. I’ve kind of been waiting for this moment and I love performing for the audiences. It’s just a great thing. So it’s been busy but I’m very happy about it.”