Decca Classics is delighted to announce the exclusive signing of South Korean pianist Yunchan Lim, after following him across the globe for his much sought-after signature. International record company executives travelled to Tokyo, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, London, New York and Seoul to meet with Yunchan and bring him to the legendary label.
It was last year that the then 18-year-old “stunned the music world” (The New York Times) and made history by becoming the youngest ever winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas. Yunchan’s final performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 not only moved the conductor, Marin Alsop, to tears on stage, but skyrocketed on YouTube, trending at #24 globally and garnering over 12 million views, making it the most-watched rendition of the work on the platform. Critics also praised the astounding interpretation stating he was an “immediate sensation” (The New York Times) and “a star was born” (The I Paper).
Yunchan hit the headlines, was catapulted to stardom beyond the classical world and became a national hero in Korea overnight. The media buzz and fan reaction continued, with listeners describing Yunchan’s playing as “life-changing”. His success so far, coupled with his magnetic stage presence, has inspired a cult following worldwide – sparking multiple fan pages and his face printed on unofficial T-shirts – and he has been referred to by the press as “classical music’s answer to K-pop”.
Here is a musician who transcends boundaries and seeks to connect with audiences on a profound level. The Critic aptly reports, “Yunchan plays the notes – all of them – as pathways to a surreal elsewhere” as International Piano states the teenager has “the whole world in his hands”.
Yunchan’s ascent in the world of classical music has been meteoric and the young pianist is busier than ever, with his upcoming Carnegie Hall debut and performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris alongside label-mate Klaus Mäkelä, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Music Director Vasily Petrenko.
Critics and audiences alike have been consistently enchanted by Yunchan Lim’s performances. From his captivating appearances at renowned stages including the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl, to his celebrated London debut at Wigmore Hall, leaving no doubt that he is a “one-in-a-million talent” (Dallas Morning News). The Wigmore Hall’s live stream of the sold-out recital has already been viewed more than 100,000 times, with The Times stating, “If ever a young pianist made his London debut trailing clouds of glory, it was this 18-year-old South Korean.”
After releasing his first post-competition work, a live recording album of Beethoven’s Emperor concerto with the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra on Universal Music Korea and going Platinum within hours, Lim is set to release his debut Decca album in spring 2024. Reflecting on his journey Yunchan says, “I made up my mind that I will live my life only for the sake of music, and I decided that I will give up everything for music… I wanted my music to become deeper, and if that desire reached the audience, I’m satisfied.”
Decca Classics Label Director, Dominic Fyfe and Executive Producer, Helen Rogers say, “Decca is home to the legacies of some of the greatest pianists on record: from Arrau and Ashkenazy to Brendel, Backhaus and Uchida. With Yunchan we begin a new chapter, one which looks back to that golden age of pianism but which also promises to set a gold standard for the future. We are privileged that Yunchan has chosen to make his home with Decca Classics and look forward to a long and storied relationship.”
Yunchan says “Decca has produced records with excellent sound quality, and has worked with numerous legendary musicians. It’s a record label that one can truly appreciate as a musician.”.
Decca Co-President Tom Lewis remarks, “Yunchan is, quite simply, the most exciting new classical artist on the planet. It took a global mission to secure his signature and bring him to Decca Classics. Tickets to his concerts already sell out in seconds, such is the level of excitement around him. He is a once-in-a-generation talent and we are so excited that he chose us.”
About Yunchan Lim
Born in Siheung, Korea, Yunchan Lim’s musical journey began at the age of 7. He quickly immersed himself in his studies, and at age 13, he was accepted into the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts, where he met his teacher and mentor, Minsoo Sohn. Yunchan’s international debut came in 2018 when he won awards at the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists. His talent continued to shine, and by the age of 15, he was the youngest to win Korea’s IsangYun International Competition.
Photo credit: Decca Classics