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Min Kwon (born Kwon, Min-Kyung) is a Korean-American pianist, serving as Chair of the Keyboard Department and Professor of Music at the Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University in New Jersey). Previously, she also taught piano minor and chamber music students at The Juilliard School in New York.
Min Kwon began playing the piano at the age of three under the tutelage of her mother. She also studied violin and cello, and received the Music Award from the Korean Department of Education at the age of 12, making her debut as piano soloist with the Korean Symphony in Mendelssohn's Concerto No. 1, and performing Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 2 with the nationally televised Seoul Philharmonic. At the age of 14, she received a full scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and made her North American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 16, performing the Prokofiev Concerto No. 3. While at Curtis, she studied with Eleanor Sokoloff and Leon Fleisher, and participated in the master classes of such artists as Richard Goode and Murray Perahia. After earning her Bachelor of Music degree at the age of 19, Min Kwon continued her studies at The Juilliard School with Martin Canin. She received MM and DMA degrees from Juilliard, and completed post-doctoral studies in Austria with Hanz Leygraf. As the winner of the Beethoven Competition, she made her New York debut in 1992 with the Juilliard Orchestra at the Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center under Stanisław Skrowaczewski, performing Beethoven's Concerto No. 4. Other noted concerto collaborations include conductors such as James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, and Vaktang Jiordania. She made tours of South America with Orquesta Estaudo Mexico and Orquesta Sinforinca Venezuela, and appeared with all the major orchestras in Korea. Winner: Juilliard's Gina Bachauer International Piano Award (1995), the Kingsville International Competition, Van Cliburn Institute Competition, prizes: Jaen Int'l, Scottish Int'l, Dong-A Int'l, and Calabria Int'l; First Prize, New York Keyboard Institute and Festival Dorothy McKenzie Artist Awards; Grand Prize, Korea KBS Emerging Artists Awards.
Performances and critical acclaim
Min Kwon has given solo and chamber recitals in Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, and to a sold out audience in New York's Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, as well as performed on numerous international stages, including the Colmar Festival in France, in Germany, Estonia, Norway, Malaysia, Curaçao, and Switzerland. Following her 2006 Carnegie Hall recital, the New York Concert Review wrote, "...sonic thunder and pianistic lightning… Min allowed for both simplicity and opulence and the results were gratifying." Her recital in Manila, Philippines, was praised in the Philippine Inquirer as "a ravishingly beautiful and powerful performance forging a special bond with the audience." Her performance of Olivier Messiaen Vingt Regards L'enfant Jesus on BBC TV prompted the critic of The Herald to write, "Very impressive, astonishingly gifted." Recent concerto engagements: Wiener Residenz Orchester, Vienna (Mozart K. 488), New York Sinfonietta (Haydn D), Manhattan Chamber Orchestra (Bach BWV 1516), Bucharest Philharmonic in Italy (Mozart K. 271), Daejun Philharmonic (Asian Premiere of Paul Schonfield's Four Parables for Piano).
Min Kwon, together with her sister, violinist Yoon Kwon, were the first Koreans to record (in RCA's 100-year history) for Red Seal in 1995. Between 1994 and 2000, the duo has performed extensively under the (Columbia Artist Management Inc.) Community Concerts and IMG Artists Management. In addition to the duo album, Min has recorded solo piano works featured in You and Me and Concerto Extravaganza. Featuring the music of Schubert and Liszt, her newest album was released in 2008 by MSR Classics, a collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer, David Frost.
Min Kwon is in great demand around the world as a gifted and inspiring teacher. Her students have been accepted to many major conservatories, including the 'Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, and New England Conservatory, as well as truimphed in numerous competitions.
Kwon often showcases her students at festivals where she is invited to teach, which have included the Kuhmo International Chamber Music Festival in Finland, and the Altenburg MozartFest in Austria. She has conducted master classes at Shanghai Conservatory, Beijing Central Conservatory, Hong Kong Academy of Fine Arts, Hong Kong University, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Singapore, and the Vladimir Feltsman PianoFest in SUNY New Paltz, New York, as well as served as a guest professor at London Royal College of Music and the International Keyboard Institute in Korea.
Min, with her sister, Yoon, modeled for a Pantene Shampoo TV commercial in 2001. She was also seen on the Hour of Power with Robert Schuller, and was featured as the cover story "Maestro on Mediterranean" of Virtuoso Magazine. Since 1996, Min Kwon is also the highest rated classical artist onboard Crystal Cruises, a 6-star award-winning cruise line, and was twice named their Classical Artist of the Year (2002 and 2005). Min Kwon has traveled to 62 countries.
Min has also contributed exclusive articles in Korean music publications, most notably Piano Music, in which she interviewed such pianists as Kristjan Zimmerman, Yevgeny Kissin, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mitsuko Uchida, Murray Perhaia, and Pierre Laurent Aimard.
1996 Yoon Kwon, Min Kwon / Min Kwon (works by Part, Brahms, de Falla, Gershwin, Kreisler)
2000 You and Me, Yoon and Min (works by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Copland, Schonfield)
2005 Concerto Extravaganza (works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Grieg, Rachmaninoff)
2008 Schubert and Liszt (Schubert Sonata D 850, Schubert/Liszt Gretchen am Spinnrade, Liszt Gnomenreigen, Reminiscence de Don Juan)
- Piano & keyboard: the bimonthly piano quarterly. String Letter Press. 1995. p. 19.