The 2018 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition wrapped up Saturday night at Kleinhans Music Hall. Bokyung Byun of South Korea won first place. She was the first woman ever to win the competition. Byun also won the Musicians Choice award as voted by members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Byun began playing guitar at age 6. At the age of 11, she began going on concert tours in Korea. By her teen years, she had won competitions held by the Korea Guitar Association, the Music Association of Korea, and the Guitar Foundation of America. Byun was the first guitarist ever to be admitted to Juilliard’s undergraduate guitar program. She is now pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Southern California as the recipient of the prestigious International Artist Fellowship. Byun, 23, performed Concerto pour Guitare et Petit Orchestra by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Salseado from Sonata for Guitar by Roberto Sierra.
Byun will receive a solo concert at the Fondazione La Società dei Concerti in a recital among the series “Winners!” of Incontri Musicali at Gaber Auditorium in Milano, Italy, along with a $10,000 cash prize, national and international broadcast exposure, and a return engagement with the BPO.
Eight classical guitarists, representing five nations, competed throughout the week. After a round of semi-finals performed with an accompanist, the judges’ panel chose three finalists to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under Music Director JoAnn Falletta, herself a classical guitarist.
Tengue "TY" Zhang of China captured Audience Favorite and second place. Congyi Zhang won third place, and also received the inaugural William and Carol Greiner Award, encouraging the performance of lesser-known works, for his performance of Ernesto Cordero’s Concierto Antillano.
Watch an interview with first-place winner Bokyung Byun of South Korea below: