By Kim Boram
SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) — South Korean baritone singer Kim Gihoon has a number of prizes from the world’s most prestigious classical music competitions under his belt over his decade-long singing career.
His list of accolades includes the top prize at the 2016 Seoul International Music Competition and runner-up titles at the 2019 International Tchaikovsky Competition and at the 2019 World Opera Competition, also known as Operalia.
In June, he added one more crown at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021, a renowned competition for opera singers held every two years. He became the first South Korean to win the main prize section for opera arias.
“I’m so pleased to win the BBC Cardiff competition. It was one of my dream contests that I have hoped to win since I started singing,” Kim said in a press conference on Tuesday. “I can’t believe that I won this contest and I’m also happy that I’m the first Korean to win this one.”
Kim, 29, has been regarded as a phenom in Korea as he rose to the mainstream of the classical music scene just a few years after he started singing at the age of 18.
His powerful but sophisticated voice with a smooth, silky tone captured the ears of the jury and spectators of the televised BBC competition that gives the winner 20,000 pounds (US$27,600) in prize money.
Kim performed a variety of opera numbers, from “The Barber of Seville” of Gioachino Rossini to “Tannhauser” by Richard Wagner, to show off his artistic skills and emotional expressions over 15 other competitors that represent their respective countries.
The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, called Kim a “velvet baritone” who is capable of inspiring tears and awe.
But he said he is still hungry to develop better singing skills and more heartfelt feelings that resonate with audiences. That’s why he keeps participating in music competitions after having already made his presence felt in the world’s classical music community.
“Although spectators like my performance, I always think I could have done better or shouldn’t have made that mistake,” he said. “I think an artist who isn’t satisfied with his or her own performance goes forward. When I’m satisfied with my singing, that might be the end of my artistic career.”
To celebrate his recent victory at the BBC Cardiff competition, Kim will hold a solo recital at the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul next month.
He will sing 15 opera arias, including the numbers that he performed during the BBC competition.
“I’ve prepared the program to share my history of competitions with Korean fans,” he said. “I want to become a baritone singer that all Koreans know.”