South Korean violinist Youjin Lee, age 17, wins 28th annual Klein String Competition

Saturday, June 08, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, June 9, 2013 — South Korean violinist Youjin Lee won first prize at the 28th annual Irving M. Klein International String Competition, held June 8 – 9 at San Francisco State University, further propelling a burgeoning career in music.

Colburn Conservatory academy student wins elite prize worth $14,400, including cash, solo appearances

Lee’s outstanding performances included movements from Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001; Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35; Poulenc’s Violin Sonata, Op. 119; and Joel Friedman’s commissioned work, “Uncle Hokum’s Fiddle.”

“There is an intense force of sound and versatility in Youjin’s playing that is pure and rare. Each note is incredibly concentrated and intensified, fitting into a larger picture,” said Mitchell Sardou Klein, competition director. “All of the performers were breathtakingly wonderful, and each has a persona that wins us all. It was very difficult decision for the jury. We salute all of the performers.”

Lee, 17, takes home the Marvin T. Tepperman Memorial Prize, valued at $14,400. It includes cash and solo appearances with the Marin Symphony and San Jose Chamber Orchestra, in addition to performances with the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, Noontime Concerts in San Francisco and Music in the Vineyards in Napa Valley.

The award carries the prestige that has helped many top soloists gain prominence in the competitive world of classical music, including David Requiro, Tessa Lark, Jennifer Koh, Mark Kosower, Vadim Gluzman, Alban Gerhardt, Wendy Warner, Frank Huang and François Salque.

Lee began her violin studies at age 3. She made her musical debut at age 7 at the Inchon City Association of Music Competition, where she won first prize. She has won many of Korea’s major national competitions, including the Baroque Competition, Korea Times Competition and Seoul Art Center Concert for Talented Musicians. In 2008, Lee performed with the Joy Philharmonic Orchestra in the Baroque Competition’s Winner Recital. In 2009 she performed with the Ploiesti State Philharmonic Orchestra in Romania. Lee was invited to perform at the Blue House Recital for South Korea President Myung Bak Lee. In 2010 she performed at the Spring Festival Concert for LG Chamber Music School and at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Since summer 2011, Lee has been a student at the Perlman Music Program led by Itzhak Perlman, selected for the summer program in New York and winter residency in Florida. She recently won the Downey Symphony and Bellflower Symphony young artist competitions. As part of her prize, she appeared with both orchestras as a featured soloist. Last season Lee was the soloist with the New West Symphony and performed concerts for thousands of fifth-grade students in Southern California as part of New West’s Symphonic Adventures series. This season she won Fifth Prize in the Munetsugu International Violin Competition in Japan.

Lee, who moved from her native South Korea to the U.S. two years ago, is a student of Danielle Belen at the Colburn Conservatory of Music Young Artists Academy in Los Angeles. She a junior at Ribet Academy High School in Los Angeles.

The 2013 Klein Competition awarded six other prizes. Wyatt Underhill, 22, a violinist from Elm Grove, Wis., won second prize, the $4,250 Elaine H. Klein Prize. The prize includes $3,000 cash and a solo recital at the Gualala Arts Chamber Music Series. Ruth Short gives this prize in honor of Elaine H. Klein. He also won this year’s $200 Allen and Susan Weiss Memorial Prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work.

Underhill recently graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Gregory Fulkerson. Underhill will pursue his Master’s Degree at The Juilliard School with Catherine Cho beginning this fall.

Dana Kelley, 22, viola, won third prize, the $2,500 Alice Anne Roberts Memorial Prize. Born in Syracuse, N.Y., she studies with Kim Kashkashian and attends the New England Conservatory of Music. Kelley also won the $500 Pablo Casals Award for the best performance of the solo Bach work.

A pair of $1,250 fourth prizes was awarded. Kevin Lin, violin, a 20-year-old New York City native who studies with Robert Lipsett at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, won the Harry Adams Prize, given by Loretta O’Connell. Brannon Cho, cello, an 18-year-old who studies with Hans Jorgen Jensen and attends Milburn High School in Millburn, N.J., won the Dexter and Kathleen Lowry Prize.

Each semifinalist not awarded a named prize receives $750.

Klein winners also receive the opportunity to make presentations and conduct master classes at schools on the Peninsula and in San Francisco.

This year’s winners are among 97 Klein String Competition entrants — an all-time high — from 10 countries. The judges then selected eight semifinalists who gave 20–25-minute recitals Saturday, June 8, in Knuth Hall at SF State. Following Saturday’s performances, the distinguished panel of judges chose three finalists to compete in the final round held Sunday, June 9. Each of the three finalists performed a 25–35 minute program.

Among this year’s semifinalists, there were four violinists, three cellists and one violist. They ranged from 17 to 23 years old.

In its history, the Klein Competition has awarded first prize to 17 violinists, eight cellists and four violists. In 1987, a judging gridlock resulted in two outstanding winners, both violinists.

This year’s distinguished jury included previous Klein winners Richard Hirschl and Frank Huang, as well as Joel Friedman, Peter Gelfand, Michael Gelfand, Alan Grishman, Donna Mudge, Melvin Margolis and Barbara Day Turner.

This year’s competition honored the memory of Marc Gottlieb, a longtime Klein Competition judge who played violin with Irving Klein in the Claremont String Quartet. Gottlieb died April 21 at age 82.

Tessa Lark, winner of the 2008 Klein Competition and 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition, served as a mentor to the eight semifinalists and an MC at the performances.

The Irving M. Klein International String Competition, presented by Creative State Presents at SF State and the California Music Center, has earned recognition as one of the leading string competitions in the world. The competition is named for the late cellist and master teacher who devoted himself untiringly to the development of young artists. For details, contact the Klein Competition office at 415-252-1122 or visit:

Media Contact: 

Matt Itelson, 415-338-1442,, San Francisco State University, College of Liberal and Creative Arts, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132

News Release