Baritone Kim Tae-han becomes 1st Asian male singer to win Queen Elisabeth Competition

June 5, 2023

(서울=연합뉴스) 4일(현지시간) 벨기에에서 열린 '2023 퀸 엘리자베스 국제콩쿠르'에서 우승한 성악가 김태한이 수상 발표 후 취재진과 인터뷰하고 있다. 2023.6.4 [문화체육관광부 제공. 재판매 및 DB 금지]

South Korean baritone Kim Tae-han has won the Queen Elisabeth Competition for voice, becoming the first Asian male singer to win the coveted classical music contest in Belgium.

Kim was named the first prize winner during an awards ceremony in Brussels on Saturday (local time), which was broadcast live online.

The 22-year-old is the third South Korean singer to clinch the top prize, following sopranos Hong Hae-ran in 2011 and Hwang Sumi in 2014.

Kim, the youngest among the 12 finalists, said he was “absorbed in music” while preparing for the competition.

“As I attend competitions to enjoy the stage, I was under no pressure and happily sang,” Kim told reporters after the ceremony. “I want to be a superstar. My dream is to be an opera singer who travels across the world to sing.”

Kim, who currently studies at Seoul National University, has won several awards at international competitions, including the Neue Stimmen international singing competition, the Concorso Internazionale Riccardo Zandonai and the Concurso Tenor Vinas last year.

During the finals, Kim sang five songs, including “O, du mein holder Abendstern,” an aria of Richard Wagner’s opera “Tannhauser.”

Established in 1937, the competition named after the late Belgian queen is one of the three most prestigious contests for classical musicians, along with the International Chopin Piano Competition and the International Tchaikovsky Competition. The voice section was added in 1988.

Violinists, pianists, singers and cellists compete in a four-year cycle, and this year was the voice competition.