South Kent student pianist excels on world stage
"This year, we had 100 contestants of 30 different nationalities and selected 44 young pianists to compete this week," said Frank Wibaut, the artistic director and jury chairman.
Lee had been accepted into the March 3-8 competition after his application and DVD recording were reviewed by the panel of judges.
Once at Hastings, each student played a 25-minute chosen concerto with a second pianist, each on his or her own piano.
Taek Gi Lee was one of only seven to advance to the semifinals.
South Kent's MaryAnn Haverstock was there with Taek Gi to see it all.
Haverstock, South Kent's Center for Innovation Director of Sustainability and math teacher, was proud and excited.
"Next, Taek Gi played a solo recital of Bach and Liszt. He was amazing!" she said. "He was again successful and was one of three in the final to play a full chosen concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra on the final day."
Lee played Rachmaninov's piano Concerto No. 3.
"His performance was impeccable and he was awarded not only judges' first prize for the official competition but audience first prize based on audience claps," she said.
Haverstock added, "You should have heard the audience cheering for Taek Gi. It was a wonderful evening, and a great reward for his hard work and commitment."
As the first prize winner, Lee received the Hastings International Piano Concerto trophy, the £5,000 10th anniversary prize, plus a concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The South Kent community was pleased to learn of Taek Gi's achievement.
"Taek Gi's accomplishment is fabulous," Head of School Andrew Vadnais said. "It is a reminder that, even on a world stage, when one finds his purpose and follows it with passion and directness, excellence always results."
Taek Gi is taking classes and has performed at the Juilliard School, and is also part of South Kent's classical music program.