Yunchan Lim: “When Music Speaks, Everyone Understands”

Classical Pianist Yunchan Lim Now Artist Ambassador of Apple Music

Yunchan Lim wins Gold at Cliburn Competition 2022. Music Press Asia

Recently appointed as Artist Ambassador at Apple Music, Yunchan Lim kicked off the year performing at Apple Music Classical’s launch event in Seoul. This happened in the midst of his performances at Seoul Philharmonic’s season opening concert and his Japan recital tour.

As part of his ambassadorship, Yunchan created a playlist titled “The Golden Age of Piano”, comprised of 10 tracks that Lim chose. Pieces include Ignaz Friedman’s “Etude, Op. 10,5,” Art Tatum’s “Humoresque” and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “13 Preludes, Op. 32: No. 5 in G Major.”

“It’s a playlist I can’t simply put into one phrase,” Lim said. “These are all songs that helped open my eyes to what a real piano performance is, and what real music is. They all shocked me or gave me hope, so I hope other people will be able to feel the same emotions while listening to these songs.”

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In June 2022, Yunchan Lim became the youngest person ever to win gold at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at the age of 18; his performances throughout showcased a “magical ability” and a “natural, instinctive quality” (La Scena) that astounded listeners around the world.

Speaking at a press conference recently, Yunchan said: “I made up my mind that I will live my life only for the sake of music, and I decided that I will give up everything for music… I wanted my music to become deeper, and if that desire reached the audience, I’m satisfied.”

The video of Yunchan’s Rachmaninov performance trended globally on YouTube in the days after, and has now become the most-watched version of that piece on the platform, amassing well over 10 million views. The New York Times later listed it as one of the Top 10 Classical Music Performances of 2022.

Yunchan Lim wins gold at Cliburn Competition 2022 800. Music Press Asia
[Just 19 years old, Yunchan’s ascent to international stardom has been meteoric. His audacious Cliburn Semifinal Round performance of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes “created a buzz throughout the international piano community”—his “intelligent virtuosity and total immersion into Liszt’s idiom truly defined transcendental” (Gramophone). Music Press Asia]

“I’ve been using Apple Music since I was in ninth grade, and I’ve been able to discover new songs and masterpieces,” Lim told reporters during the press conference at the Apple Myeongdong flagship store in Jung District, central Seoul, on Monday. “It’s an honour to be able to collaborate with Apple Music after receiving so much help from it over the years.”

Yunchan Lim artist ambassador of Apple Music. Music Press Asia
[Yunchan Lim is now artist ambassador of Apple Music Classical. Music Press Asia]

The app’s Artist Ambassadors featured globally include Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma and Hilary Hahn, among others.

Yunchan has recently completed two years at the Korea National University of Arts, and is currently studying at the New England Conservatoire with his teacher Minsoo Sohn.

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Following his Japan tour, Yunchan Lim will make his debut with Boston Symphony performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and his debut at Carnegie Hall on 21 February.

The highly anticipated gold-medal album for 2022 Cliburn winner Yunchan Lim is out now on the Steinway & Sons record label featuring the remastered live recording of his historic, complete performance of the Liszt Transcendental Etudes during the Competition’s Semifinal Round. Order the CD from the Cliburn Shop here.

Cover image of Yunchan Lim courtesy of The Cliburn.

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