Meet Yeol Eum Son: timeless, crystal clear and graceful – Artist in Residence with Residentie Orkest

26 Apr 2022

Yeol Eum Son, who makes her Amsterdam Concertgebouw recital debut on 7 May, has just been announced as Artist in Residence throughout 22/23 season with the Residentie Orkest , Den Haag. Together with chief conductor Anja Bihlmaier, Yeol Eum Son opens the Dutch political year with the popular Prinsjesdag concert on 20 September. Prinsjesdag (Little Prince Day) is the day on which the reigning monarch of the Netherlands addresses a joint session of the States-General of the Netherlands to give the speech from the throne. This speech sets out the main features of government policy for the coming parliamentary session.

Notable for her interpretation of Ravel’s music, as according to The Scotsman ‘Son was astonishingly dextrous in Ravel’s one-handed dashes up and down the keyboard’, Yeol Eum will interpret Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major, followed by Residentie Orchestra’s interpretation of Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition which will give a French touch to the celebration. This is very appropriate, considering that the Prince of Orange takes his name from a principality in Provence. This program will be a great contrast to the following encounter between Yeol Eum and Residentie Orkest on 18 November, where three centuries of German music are explored, including Yeol Eum’s interpretation of Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 alongside Webern’s Langsamer Satz and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.1.

In addition to conductor Anja Bihlmaier, during her residency Yeol Eum will collaborate with conductors Andrew Grams and Pablo González. With Grams she performs a New Year concert by showing her broad talent in the musical fireworks of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and I got rhythm. This is also the case in the last concert of the series, in which Yeol Eum plays the Second Piano Concerto by Saint-Saëns in G minor, Op. 22. The programme also includes Liliana, a fairy-tale composition by the Spanish pianist Enrique Granados, and the very last work by the Russian composer Rachmaninov.

Wonder child

Yeol Eum was twenty when she left South Korea to study in Hannover under the famous piano pedagogue Arie Vardi. As a former child prodigy and concert pianist, she had already been much in demand in her native country. ‘Nobody in the west had ever heard of me, so I had to start right from scratch. The only way to get concerts was to take part in a lot of competitions.’

In addition to being a double second prize winner at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 2011, she also won second prize at the Van Cliburn Piano Competition in 2009. ‘You just don’t expect to hear them call out your name. I think that my strength lies in the fact that I feel so at home on the stage, and that I love to communicate with the audience.’

Her strategy worked – highly regarded as a brilliant virtuoso whose playing has a rare balance between enormous kinetic energy and substantial gravity, there is no shortage of performances by Yeol Eum. Praised for her widely eclectic and rich concerti repertoire, ranging from Bach, all-Mozart, early German and Russian Romantic to Gershwin, Szymanowski, Ligeti and Salonen, as a soloist Yeol Eum has collaborated with major ensembles worldwide such as New York Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Dresdner Philharmoniker, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Tonkunstler Orchestra at the Grafenegg Festival, Bergen Philharmonic, CBSO, Aurora Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi and St. Petersburg Philharmonic among many others.

Most Recently, Yeol Eum made debuts at the Palace of Arts with the Budapest Festival Orchestra; Helsinki Music Centre with the Helsinki Philharmonic; Salle Philharmonique de Liège with Liège Philharmonic; Philharmonie de Paris debut with Orchestre National d’Île-de-France; Glasgow City Halls with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and at Madrid’s Teatro Monumental with the Spanish Radio Television Symphony Orchestra.

Across 22/23, Yeol Eum makes UK and European debuts with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Basel, Castilla y León Symphony Orchestras and NDR Radiophilharmonie. Beyond Europe, Australian audiences will have the opportunity to hear Yeol Eum live for her Australian concerti debuts with the Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. In Northern America Yeol Eum makes debuts with San Diego, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

To this day, Yeol Eum is grateful that she discovered her great love for music when she was so young. Like most children in South Korea, she started having music lessons at the age of three. ‘I fell in love with the piano the moment I first touched the keys. I would sit and play the piano for hours on end, and when I wasn’t playing, I was listening to piano music. Even more than I do now, actually’, she admits with a smile. When asked whether her parents forced her to study a lot, her answer was loud and clear: ‘Fortunately not, otherwise I would have quickly given up playing the piano.’

Concerts with Yeol Eum Son

Prinsjesdag concert
Tuesday 20 September – 20.00hrs
Anja Bihlmaier conductor
Yeol Eum Son piano
Ravel Piano Concerto in G

Mozart & Mendelssohn
Friday 18 November – 20.00 hrs
Anja Bihlmaier conductor
Yeol Eum Son piano
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20

New Year’s Concert: An American New Year
Friday 6 January – 20.00 hrs
Andrew Grams conductor
Yeol Eum Son piano
Gershwin Rhapsody in blue
Gershwin I got rhythm

Saint-Saëns & Rachmaninov
Sunday 16 April – 14.15 hrs
Pablo González conductor
Yeol Eum Son piano
Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2