KIPC 2018 Prize Winners

First Prize – $15000 –  Shuan Hern Lee

Shuan Hern Lee gained his Fellowship Diploma aged 14 and has since studied at the University of Western Australia and the International Piano Academy Incontri Col Maestro, Imola in Italy. He was first prize winner at the Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Russia, the Piano Competition for Young Musicians in The Netherlands and Junior E-Piano Competition in the USA. His recital at the KIPC Final included Haydn Sonata No 52, Chopin Barcarolle, Bach/Busoni Chaconne and Prokofiev Toccata.

Second Prize – $8000 – Katherine E. Benson

Katherine E. Benson has a Bachelor of Music degree and is currently pursuing her Master in piano performance at Northwestern University, Illinois. She has received honours in several competitions including a semi-finalist award at the 2018 Los Angeles International Competition. Her KIPC Final recital included Mozart Fantasia K475, Chopin Sonata No2 and Rautavaara Sonata No 2.

Third Prize – Sunhwa Kim – $4000

Sunhwa Kim was the winner of the 12th Seoul Student Award and a finalist in the 2013 International Paderewski Piano Competition in Poland She has performed with the 2018 LA Opera Young Artists at the Steinway Galleries and is currently a Diploma student at the Colburn Conservatory in LA. Her KIPC Final recital included Debussy Image Bk 1, Chopin Nocturne No1 and Rachmaninoff Sonata No 2.

Fourth Prize – $2000 – Baichao Lan

Baichao Lan studied at the New England Conservatory and is currently taking a Master’s degree at The Juilliard School. He has won over 20 national and international piano competitions and has been invited to perform throughout the USA, Europe and Asia. His KIPC Final recital included Haydn Sonata No 13, Rachmaninoff Prelude and Schumann Carnaval.


Other Prize Winners

Sonata Prize – Benjamin Goodman – $2500
Benjamin Goodman has recently graduated from Mannes College of Music, NYC, where he received the 2017 Steinway Award. He has given solo recitals throughout Israel and in the US, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Special Judges’ Prize – Lixin Zhang – $500
New Zealander Lixin Zhang is currently at Burnside High School in the Specialist Music Programme studying both piano and violin. He passed his LRSM diploma with high distinction and has a Fellowship Diploma Certificate from Trinity College London.

KIPC Trustees’ Prize – Jeremy So – $500
Jeremy So studied at the Sydney Conservatorium followed by the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He has performed around Australia and abroad in Auckland, Leipzig, Paris, Xi’an and the UK.

The 2018 Competition as it happened

Wednesday 28th September

The opening night of the competition got underway with the introduction of the three judges, Soo-Jung Shin (Republic of Korea), Awadagin Pratt (USA) and Phillip Shovk (Australia).  The 14 contestants then made the draw for the playing order. The audience moved to the auditorium where they were treated to two moving recitals by judges Awadagin Pratt and Philip Shovk.


Thursday 27th September

The morning started with one of KIPC’s Fringe Events “Meet the Judges” where the audience gained an insight into the experience and approach to the role of being a competition judge. On the question of how they choose the winners the judges answered “Does the playing move me?”, “Do I want to listen to this artist again?”, “Was there something created then, in the now?”.

Round 1 then began, featuring a major classical sonata by Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven, and a virtuoso étude by Chopin, Scriabin or Rachmaninoff. Having heard the first ten of the fourteen contestants today, our music reviewers Andrea Sim and Roger Larkin were amazed at the phenomenal level of performance.

A lunchtime talk from visiting piano technician Glenn Easley of Global Piano Services was held in the Foyer Bar, where he spoke about “The life of a Piano Technician”.


Friday 28th September

The morning started with another KIPC Fringe Event. This time Glenn Easley spoke about the process of “Selecting and Preparing the Concert Piano”.  Glenn demonstrated many of the technical features of the Steinway piano keyboard and action and how the technician is able to make adjustments to suit a particular venue acoustic, the concert repertoire or an individual soloists’ preference.

The morning session saw the completion of Round 1. The audience had now heard all the contestants, including both New Zealand competitors Lixin Zhang (17 years) and Delvan Lin (19 years) who are right up there in this international company.

A lunchtime talk from judge Philip Shovk addressed the important issue of “Preparing a recital programme for competition”.

The afternoon saw the first session of Round 2, where contestants played a 30 minute recital programme of their choice.


Saturday 29th September

The day’s programme completed the other two sessions of Round 2. The audience were very engaged and responsive to the performances, with much discussion about the contestants and also their programme choices.

Late afternoon saw the announcement of the finalists: Shuan Hern Lee, Baichao Lan, Sunhwa Kim and Katherine E Benson.


Sunday 30th September

The final day of KIPC 2018 began with a series of masterclasses for non-finalists given by judges Soo-Jung Shin and Awadagin Pratt and attended by around forty people. This was another KIPC “Fringe” Event, where the audience were given the privilege of gaining insights into the very specialised world of piano performance. All of the judges were very generous in their comments, sharing their knowledge and ideas with the students.

The final recital was spellbinding with each finalist performing their own choice of programme in a 40-45 minute recital. Immediately after performances, the judges went into deliberation, and in a moving ceremony afterwards, the prize winners were announced.

Congratulations to all of our prize winners:

First Prize – Shuan Hern Lee (Australia)

Second Prize – Katherine E. Benson (USA)

Third Prize – Sunhwa Kim (Republic of Korea)

Fourth Prize – Baichao Lan (China)

Sonata Prize – Benjamin Goodman (Israel)

Judges’ Prize -Lixin Zhang (New Zealand)

KIPC Trustees’ Prize – Jeremy So (Australia)

A farewell reception then took place in the Events Centre where contestants had time to network with each other and also the judges. There was a wonderful festival atmosphere where important connections were made and the public were able to share in the atmosphere and spirit which this very special event creates.