Piano prodigy Yekwon Sunwoo is ready to take audience members on an emotional journey at this year’s Savannah Music Festival.

The 28-year-old South Korea native, who has been touring the United States with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, said he’s excited for his stop in Savannah.

By the time he touches down for the Savannah Music Festival, Sunwoo will have bounced around the globe like a pinball, including an extensive tour of not only the United States, but parts of Asia as well.

In the span of just four days, Sunwoo will perform concerts in South Korea, Kansas, and finally Savannah. “I’m actually a pretty good traveler, I enjoy the trips," Sunwoo said in an interview with Do Savannah.

 

It is in part because of these travels that Sunwoo has earned a cabinet full of impressive awards. On top of winning the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2017, Sunwoo has won five major piano awards in the past six years from competitions in Japan, Switzerland, Germany, and other countries.

Set on the path of piano by his mother at the age of 8, Sunwoo found his passion for the music at a competitive piano school. He has since studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Mannes School of Music under Richard Goode.

The highly regarded pianist’s Savannah Music Festival program will include pieces from Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, and Liszt. Each of these selections was chosen with a purpose.

“I chose Schubert because he is one of my favorite composers,” said Sunwoo. He described the piece as “sad, but uplifting.”

Guests can expect a moving rendition of Strauss’s “Ramble on the Last Love Duet” as well.

“Such a lovely piece,” explained Sunwoo. “I just imagine being out on the shore looking at the water.”

Despite being chosen less often than other Brahms pieces, Sunwoo has opted to play Sonata No. 2, a piece he believes is a simplified version of later symphonies.

“I’m there to transport the emotions that the composers would have intended,” Sunwoo said. “Everyone reacts differently listening to different pieces.”

For Sunwoo, portraying the intended emotions of the composers is one of the reasons he loves playing piano. “What keeps me motivated is the music.”