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EXPLOREPerforming Arts

End-of-Year Celebration Performance featuring Sejong Soloists image

End-of-Year Celebration Performance featuring Sejong Soloists

Join us to close out the year in style and reflect on 2018's successes, with a special performance by the renowned international string orchestra, Sejong Soloists!

Hailed as one of today’s “top ensembles” by CNN, Sejong Soloists has established itself as a first-class string orchestra renowned for its exceptionally dynamic style, exhibiting quartet-like precision to full orchestra resonance, in more than 500 concerts in 100 cities around the world. This premier group is praised for its diverse performances, including in documentaries, television broadcasts, and recordings. Having performed masterworks by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky worldwide, the ensemble also presents eclectic programs with 20th-century masterpieces and music by distinguished living composers such as Osvaldo Golijov, Tan Dun, Sukhi Kang, Richard Danielpour, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Augusta Read Thomas, among others.

Sejong Soloists has collaborated with renowned artists, including pianists Joseph Kalichstein, Leon Fleisher, and Vladimir Feltsman, cellists Lynn Harrell and Jian Wang, and violinists Gil Shaham, Vadim Repin, Cho-Liang Lin, and Kyung Wha Chung. Highlights of Sejong Soloists’ past seasons include performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the United States, Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall in London, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, Alte Oper and Herkules-Saal in Germany, Salle Gaveau and Salle Cortot in Paris, Dvorak Hall of the Rudolfinum in the Czech Republic, Auditorio Nacional de Music in Spain, Suntory Hall in Japan, Seoul Arts Center in Korea, the National Arts Theatre in Taiwan, and National Centre for the Performing Arts in China. 

From 1996 to 2005 Sejong Soloists served as ensemble-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival, and as host ensemble for the Great Mountains International Music Festival and School in PyeongChang, South Korea, from its inception in 2004 through 2010. In 2018, the group was presented by the Trans-Siberian Art Festival in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, performing with Vadim Repin and Clara-Jumi Kang. They later performed extensive concerts in Korea with Jörg Widmann, Edgar Meyer, and Víkingur Ólafsson, as part of the Hic et Nunc! Festival. Additional appearances include the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, International Cello Festival in Manchester, England, with Cho-Liang Lin at La Jolla SummerFest in California, the Taipei International Music Festival in Taiwan, and the 20th Anniversary of the Strings of Autumn Festival in the Czech Republic. Sejong Soloists was appointed an Honorary Ambassador of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games. 

The ensemble has released eight highly acclaimed albums, including of Mendelssohn’s Octet and Hartmann’s Concerto Funebre with Gil Shaham, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Cho-Liang Lin. Sejong’s highly-praised documentaries, television broadcasts, recordings, youth development activities, as well as philanthropic endeavors worldwide are integral to the mission of this unique orchestra.

Sejong Soloists is also committed to advancing the artistry and leadership of its members. Currently, eight former Sejong leaders and soloists hold concertmaster positions including with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. 

Sejong Soloists is named after Korea’s 15th century king, Sejong the Great, known for his contribution to the arts.

End-of-Year Celebration Performance featuring Sejong Soloists
Sunday, December 16 at 5:00 PM 
Arena Stage (Kogod Cradle) 1101 Sixth Street Southwest, Washington, D.C.

RSVP UPDATE: Thank you for your interest! This program is now full and no longer accepting RSVPs. If you would like to stay informed of upcoming events and are not yet on our e-mailing list, please consider signing up HERE


Minji Kwon, Xiao Dong Wang, Violins
Paul Laraia, Viola
Na Young Baek, Cello
Hyunah Yu, Soprano
Kyu Yeon Kim, Piano
Hyun-Sook Park, Piano

P. Tchaikovsky | Andante Cantabile, from String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11

S. Rachmaninoff | Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36 

F. Mendelssohn | Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, Op. 34, No. 2

F. Obradors | Del cabello mas sutil

G. Fauré | Notre amour, Op. 23, No. 2

Traditional | Oh Shenandoah

Gyu-Hwan Kim | Wondering If My Love’s Coming
A. Dvořák | Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81

Hyo Kang, Artistic Director
Hyo Kang, artistic director of Sejong Soloists, has led a flourishing and versatile career as violinist, teacher, and artistic director for the past three decades, including numerous concert tours in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and Central America. As a member of the highly acclaimed Theatre Chamber Players of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years, he premiered many American works and collaborated with celebrated artists including Leon Fleisher, Pina Carmirelli, Walter Trampler, and André Watts.

Mr. Kang has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School since 1978 and professor at the Yale School of Music since 2006. He has given master classes in the United States, Korea, Japan, and Mexico and was on the faculties of the Aspen Music School in Colorado (1978-2005) and the Japan-Aspen Music Festival in Nagano, Japan (1994-97). His students have distinguished themselves with top prizes at the world's most prestigious competitions and are performing with major orchestras worldwide; they include Gil Shaham, Sarah Chang, and Chee-Yun, among many others. Hyo Kang was born in Seoul, Korea and graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Dorothy DeLay. Recently he was the subject of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) television documentary Teaching Genius: Juilliard Professor Hyo Kang.

In March of 2003 the government of Korea awarded Kang the National Arts Medal for his contribution to the arts. He was the Founding Artistic Director of the Great Mountains International Music Festival in PyeongChang, South Korea from 2004 through 2010. In 2010 he was honored with the Daewon Music Awards Grand Prize, the most prestigious music award in Korea.

About the Artists

Xiao Dong Wang, Violin
Xiao  Dong Wang was awarded First Prize in the Yehudi Menuhin Competition at age 13 and 15, also winning the jury’s special prizes for the best Bach and Elgar performances. His London debut featured the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 with Sir Yehudi Menuhin conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He also won First Prize and the special Szymanovski Prize at the Wieniawski-Lipinski International Competition in Poland. For his debut tour, Mr. Wang performed in the USSR with a recital in Moscow and three performances of the Brahms Violin Concerto.
A guest soloist of considerable experience, Mr. Wang has performed with orchestras around the world, including the Royal Philharmonic in London, the London Mozart Players, the symphony orchestras of Adelaide, Perth, and Queensland, and the Sydney Opera Orchestra. His recording credits include the Bartok Concerto No. 2 and Szymanowski Concerto No. 1 for Polygram Records with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.  

He has performed both violin and viola in chamber music concerts at Lincoln Center, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Aspen, Ravinia, and numerous festivals and events worldwide. He is the Artistic Director and a founding member of the renowned chamber music group Concertante.

Mr. Wang began violin studies at age three with his father, concertmaster of the Shanghai Symphony. He later joined the Shanghai Conservatory with teacher Zhao Ji-Yang. At Juilliard, he studied with renowned teachers Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang.

Minji Kwon, Violin  
Minji Kwon has performed throughout the world as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra player. She is a prize winner of the OSAKA International Music Competition, George Gershwin International Competition, Forte International Music Competition, National Symphony Orchestra Competition, and Seoul Symphony Orchestra Competition. She has also appeared as a soloist with State Philharmonic Orchestra Rzeszow in Poland, Seoul Symphony Orchestra, Seoul National Symphony Orchestra, Daegu Philharmonic Orchestra, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, and others. Her festivals appearances include Aspen, Music Academy of the West, Juilliard Chamber Fest, Salzburg International Music Academy, Lake George Music Festival, Music Alp Festival, Lindenbaum Orchestra Festival with Conductor Charles Dutoit, and Tong Young International Music Festival.

As an orchestra player, she earned concertmaster positions with the Juilliard orchestra, New Juilliard Ensemble, and Music Academy of the West. Her active trio has performed throughout New York and Washington, D.C. 

Ms. Kwon began violin studies at age eight, later working with professors Young-Uck Kim and Kyung-Sun Lee at Seoul National University. After receiving her Bachelor of Music Degree Summa Cum Laude, she moved to New York for graduate studies with Hyo Kang at the Juilliard School. Ms. Kwon earned a position in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and is currently a violin faculty member at New York Music School in Tenafly, New Jersey.

Paul Laraia, Viola  
Violist Paul Laraia has a multifaceted career as chamber musician, soloist, string quartet violist, and new music performer. Acclaimed for offering “long lines with lyricsm and poise”, Paul has in recent seasons been a soloist with the orchestras of Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Bogata, New Jersey, Nashville, and St. Paul. As a member of Sejong Soloists and violist of the Catalyst Quartet since 2013, Paul has performed globally in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Seoul Arts Center, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, and Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series. His major festival appearances include Yellow Barn, Sarasota, Festival Del Sole, Sitka, Banff, Grand Canyon, and Cornell’s Mayfest.  In 2011 Paul won First Prize at Detroit’s Sphinx Competition by a unanimous vote. 

Paul is committed to bringing the highest level of performance to all audiences, exploring the boundaries of what is traditionally presented as “classical music.” His quartet has presented concerts to inner city schools, Native American reservations, hospitals, nursing homes, and communities with limited access to classical music. Paul studied viola with Brynina Socolofsky, CJ Chang, and Che-hung Chen. He completed his bachelor’s degree at New England Conservatory of Music as a full scholarship student of Kim Kashkashian.

Na-Young Baek, Cello  
Korean-born cellist Na-Young Baek made her U.S. debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2000. Her recent highlights include performances of the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Wonju Philharmonic Orchestra at Seoul Arts Center and the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Macau-Hong Kong-Taipei Symphony Orchestra for their New Year’s Concert. She has also appeared as a soloist with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and the Korean Chamber Ensemble. 

Ms. Baek was the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Choong Ang Times competition in Korea and was awarded the Virtuoso Prize at the first Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Moscow, Russia. Her major recital appearances include a New York debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall presented by the Korea Music Society and the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago. An avid chamber musician, she performed in the prestigious Marlboro Music Festival, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Casals Festival in Prades, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Isaac Stern Seminar in Israel. Ms. Baek studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Orlando Cole, and continued her studies at Yale University and the Juilliard School as a recipient of the Aldo Parisot Prize. She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook University, where she studied and performed with Colin Carr.

Kyu Yeon Kim, Piano  
Kyu Yeon Kim has performed recitals and concerts in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and has appeared as an orchestral soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Belgium, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the KBS Orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia, Utah Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, Hungarian Chamber Orchestra, and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra.

Her competition honors include First Prize in the Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition, Special Prize in the Geneva International Music Competition, Second Prize, Concerto Prize, and Mozart Prize in the AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, and as a laureate in the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition. She won Fourth Prize and Mozart Prize in the Cleveland International Piano Competition. 
Her first album Rameau & Schubert was released by DUX label in Poland and distributed by NAXOS. She is a member of Opus Ensemble and a music director of Young Classical Artists Foundation. 

Born in Seoul, Kim studied at the Korea National University of Arts with Choong-Mo Kang, the Universität der Künste in Berlin with Klaus Hellwig, the Curtis Institute with Gary Graffman, and at the New England Conservatory with Russell Sherman. She earned an Artist Diploma at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Sergei Babayan. She is pursuing a doctorate degree at the Manhattan School of Music with Solomon Mikowsky.

Hyunah Yu, Soprano  
Applauded for her captivating voice, exceptional style, and effortless lyrical grace (Washington Post), soprano Hyunah Yu has garnered acclaim for her concert versatility, opera roles, chamber music, support for contemporary composers, and both recorded and broadcast performances. She has appeared with conductors Valery Gergiev, Semyon Bychkov, and David Zinman, as well as with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, and others. 

Ms. Yu performed the world premiere of David Ludwig’s The Anchoress at the 2018 opening concert of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Commissioned by Pew Foundation, it was written for her with members of the PRISM Quartet and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band. An avid chamber musician and recitalist, she has enjoyed re-engagements with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Baltimore’s Shriver Hall Concert Series, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Vancouver Recital Society, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and Musicians from Marlboro, among others. A highlight of her opera career was singing the title role in Peter Sellars’ production of Mozart’s Zaide in a joint production of the Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the Barbican Centre, and the Wiener Festwochen. 

She has recorded Bach and Mozart arias on EMI’s Debut Series, was a prizewinner at the Walter Naumburg International Competition, and, upon the nomination of pianist Mitsuko Uchida, received the coveted Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. 

Hyun-Sook Park, Piano
Hyun-Sook Park earned her Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University under the tutelage of Ellen Mack. She is currently on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory as an adjunct professor of piano pedagogy and serves as the co-director of the Peabody Piano Academy of the Preparatory School.

Park has received numerous awards and scholarships including the Presser Foundation Scholarship, the Lillian Gutman Memorial Prize, the Annie Wentz Scholarship, and the Rose Marie Milholland Award in Piano at Peabody. She also received a Korean Honor Scholarship from the Korean Embassy in the United States and is a member of Phi Kappa Lambda. Park collaborates with her sister Hyunah Yu, and has been invited to perform in Carnegie Hall’s Evening of Songs Series, the Shriver Hall Concert Series, the Brattleboro Music Center Concert Series, Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and was featured during Peabody’s reopening celebration Chamber Concert Series in the Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall.