Guildhall School of Music & Drama is delighted to announce Soohong Park as the winner of this year’s Gold Medal, the School’s most prestigious prize for outstanding musicians.
The prize is awarded to singers and instrumentalists in alternate years, and 2020 was the turn of the instrumentalists. The final, rescheduled from May, took place on Friday 25 September and was broadcast on Guildhall School’s website the following evening. It is now available to view for free for a week.
Park’s winning performance was Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor accompanied by the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Farnes. The other Gold Medal finalists, Ben Tarlton and Ke Ma also performed concertos of their choice.
Soohong Park says: ‘I am honoured to receive the Gold Medal! It was such a special evening because I felt we were connected through the music even though we were sitting far away from each other. We all had to listen more carefully and trust each other when it came to the performance, and it worked! Thanks to Head of Recording & Audio Visual (AV) Julian Hepple and the AV department, rehearsals went flawlessly. I want to thank all the staff who were involved and especially I’d like to mention Concert Piano Technician JP Williams for keeping the piano in an excellent condition for rehearsals and the performance. And, of course, my teacher Ronan O’Hora for his endless support.’
To allow for social distancing, the musicians’ performances took place across four different spaces across two buildings at the School and synced using ground-breaking low latency technology. The new network, connecting 22 rooms across the School buildings, allows musicians in different spaces within the School to play with virtually no delay in audio and video, and it is believed that Guildhall School is the first institution in the world to use this technology for the rehearsal and performance of a full orchestra. For this Gold Medal final, all players were able to see the conductor on a screen and hear the other sections of the orchestra, and the conductor was able to see and hear each section of the orchestra simultaneously. The soloists played in the same room as the strings and were in direct communication with the conductor via a headset.
The final took place before a distinguished panel of judges including Guildhall School’s Vice-Principal & Director of Music Jonathan Vaughan; Emma Bloxham, Editor at BBC Radio 3; Nicholas Mathias, Director of IMG Artists; and the evening’s conductor Richard Farnes.
The Gold Medal award was founded and endowed by Sir H. Dixon Kimber in 1915. Since 1950 it has been open to singers and instrumentalists in alternate years. Previous winners include William Primrose (1922), Jacqueline du Pré (1960), Patricia Rozario (1979), Tasmin Little (1986) and Sir Bryn Terfel (1989).
Soohong Park was educated in Jeju, South Korea and then in Detmold, Germany. He completed both his Bachelor and Masters degrees at the Hochschule für Musik, Detmold, where he studied with Dina Ugorskaja, Alfredo Perl and Peter Orth. He won third prize at the Wiesbaden International Piano Competition in 2009 and during his studies in Germany, Soohong won first prize with his trio at the Auryn Chamber Music Competition in both 2015 and 2016.
He completed his Artist Masters at Guildhall School and undertook the Artist Diploma in 2019-20 under the direction of Ronan O’Hora. He was the winner of the Glass Sellers’ Beethoven Piano Prize at Guildhall in 2016 and second prize winner of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe Intercollegiate Competition in 2017. In 2019, he was finalist at the Isang Yun International Competition in Tongyeong, South Korea and semi-finalist at the seventh Sendai International Music Competition in Japan. He has attended masterclasses with Bernd Götzke, Günter Ludwig, Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, Ferenc Rados and Murray Perahia.
As a soloist, Soohong has performed at the Carl Loewe Festival in Lübejün (where his performance was broadcasted by MDR) and has given a recital at the Philharmonic Hall in Vilnius. His concerto performances include Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor Op 18 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor KV466 with the Verler Vier-Jahreszeiten-Orchester in Verl-Kaunitz, Germany; Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C major with the Guildhall Chamber Orchestra and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Orchestra of the Paderborn University Orchestra. In 2019, he performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor Op 37 with the Sendai Philharmonic and Tongyeong Festival Orchestra.
His studies at Guildhall School were supported by The Sophie Satin Sergei Rachmaninov Award.
Recent winners include harpist Oliver Wass (2016) who continues to perform with his group, the Pelléas Ensemble; baritone Josep-Ramon Olivé (2017) is due to perform the role of Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in October 2020; pianist Joon Yoon (2018) continues to enjoy exciting chamber music and solo concerts across the world; and last year’s winner, soprano Samantha Clarke, performed a series of concerts with The Mozartists at Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall in early 2020 to critical acclaim.
The Gold Medal concert is part of Guildhall School’s online autumn season, all of which is free to view on the School’s website.