A baritone singer made history on Saturday by becoming the first Korean man to win the top prize for voice at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition.
What happened: The youngest among all the finalists, Kim Tae-han, 22, received 25,000 euros (approximately $26,700) in prize money after being crowned the winner of the voice category of the classical music competition held in Brussels.
Kim beat American singer Jasmin White, who placed second, and Russian/German singer Julia Muzychenko-Greenhalgh, who placed third.
His performance: Kim performed four songs in the finals, two of which included Richard Wagner’s “O, du mein holder Abendstern” (“Song to the Evening Star”) and Gustav Mahler’s “Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer” (“I Have a Gleaming Knife”) in D minor.
Kim told reporters that he enjoyed his time onstage. He also added that he was “submerged in the music” when he was preparing for the competition.
Background: A fourth-year student at Seoul National University’s College of Music, Kim is being taught by Na Gun-young. He has previously won awards at several other competitions, including the scholarship prize at the Concorso Internazionale Riccardo Zandonai Competition in 2022.
The competition: The Queen Elisabeth Competition was named after Queen Elisabeth of Belgium and is held annually in Brussels. It is considered to be a top classical music competition, especially for artists who are just beginning their careers.
Kim made history as the first Korean man to win the competition ever since singing was introduced as a category in 1988.
Other Korean winners: Korean sopranos Hong Hae-ran and Hwang Su-mi won the top prize in the voice category in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Musician Lim Ji-young placed first in the violin category in 2015, while musician Choi Ha-young placed first in the cello category in 2022.