Yoonie Han, winner of the 2011 Washington International Competition, has sought new experiences since winning the Korea National Music Competition at age 15 and subsequently fending for herself in the United States. The vivacious pianist chose to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 at her Kennedy Center debut simply because it was a new piece for her and one she always wanted to perform.
In typical Korean tradition, she began pursuing the arts as a child. Her first choice was ballet, but she was thrown out of the class at age ten because she was so fat the boys couldn’t lift her. Her next choice, the piano, proved far more successful.
She was 14 when her father became an exchange professor at Rutgers University. He had always wanted a son so he and her mother decided to follow South Korean traditions and return home when Yoonie’s brother was born. She chose to remain and move to New York. Because she was too young to get an apartment lease, her English tutor became her guardian.
Yoonie enrolled at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and quickly began accumulating the kinds of generous friends who have helped her along the way. Only one of a handful of pianists there, she grew attached to her classmates from many countries. Her host family continues to keep in regular touch and even traveled to Boston for her debut there.
After graduating from Curtis, she earned her masters degree at Juilliard and began amassing dozens of honors that have introduced her to major cities in this country and Europe. Currently, she is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at Stony Brook SUNY and an Artist Diploma at Université de Montréal.