2017 Vendome Prize for Piano

Sahun “Sam” Hong

Joint Second Prize

Praised for his “excellent combination of virtuosity and musicality” and “lots of clarity, confidence, and wisdom” (New York Concert Review), pianist Sahun “Sam” Hong brings his colorful style and riveting energy to the solo, chamber, and concerto stage.

On the roster of Young Steinway Artists since 2010, Sam has been featured as a guest soloist with the ORF Wiener, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Camerata New York, Fort Worth, Richardson, Racine, Waco, Galveston, and Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestras. He has made recital appearances in prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Goldener Saal and Brahms-Saal at the Vienna Musikverein, Merkin Hall, and the Kennedy Center.

An avid chamber musician, Sam is part of Trio St. Bernard with violinist Brandon Garbot and cellist Zachary Mowitz. He has participated in festivals such as Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Chamber Music Encounters at Lincoln Center, and the Taos School of Music. His recent collaborations include performances with Colin Carr, Ara Gregorian, Emanuel Gruber, Hsin-Yun Huang, Michael Kannen, Ani Kavafian, Ida Kavafian, Daniel Phillips, Steven Tenenbom, and the Pacifica Quartet.

At the age of 16, Sam graduated magna cum laude from Texas Christian University (TCU) with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance, studying with John Owings. Currently, Sam is a student of Leon Fleisher in the Doctor of Musical Arts program at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.


Do-Hyun Kim

Joint Second Prize

Do-Hyun Kim, 22, is a senior pianist at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he has continued his music studies under the tutelage of Sergei Babayan. He transferred from Seoul National University in order to seek greater depth in his dream profession. His past teachers are Hae-Sun Paik, Jeong-Eun Byun, and Hee-Sung Joo.

He started studying the piano at the age of six, and later decided to pursue a career in music at the age of fourteen. He attended the Seoul Arts High School for three years, where he was able to develop his musical background along with academic excellence.

He has won numerous awards in Korea, including the Korean National Chopin Piano Competition, Samick Piano Competition, Kukmin Daily Piano Competition. In the spring of 2014, he performed with the CIM Orchestra as a winner of the CIM Concerto Competition in fall 2013.

He was a fellow of the 2014 Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he performed in a masterclass. Also, he has been to the Pianofest in the Hamptons 2014, where he was able to gain much performing experience and receive inspiring lessons. Do-Hyun wishes to become a pianist who deeply moves audiences through his music.

In fall 2017, he will start his music diploma as Master’s Degree at the Juilliard School, under the instruction of Sergei Babayan.


Aristo Sham

Third Prize

Aristo Sham, born in Hong Kong, was first introduced to the piano at the age of three, and joined the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts at the age of six under the tutelage of Professor Eleanor Wong. He was a student at Harrow School in the UK, where he worked with Professor Colin Stone, and is currently pursuing BA/MMus degrees as a joint programme at Harvard University and New England Conservatory, studying with Professor Victor Rosenbaum.

Having given concerts on five continents in countries ranging from Singapore and Argentina to Slovenia and Morocco, Aristo has played for Prince Andrew at Windsor Castle, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Queen of Belgium and President Hu of China on their respective visits to Hong Kong. He has also collaborated with orchestras such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City and the Minnesota Orchestra. 

Aristo has won a number of international prizes, including First Prize and the Barenreiter Urtext Special Prize in the 10th Ettlingen International Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Germany in 2006, First Prize in the Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition in 2008, First Prize and two special prizes in the Minnesota International Junior Piano-e-Competition in 2011. More recently, he was awarded First Prize in the inaugural Viseu International Piano Competition in Portugal in 2015, First Prize in the Wideman International Piano Competition in 2015, First Prize in the PianoArts Competition in Milwaukee in 2016, and First Prize, and Best Performance of the Commissioned Work in the New York International Piano Competition in 2016.

Aristo was featured in the documentary ‘The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies’, broadcast by Channel 4 in the UK, and was awarded a Fellowship with distinction in Piano Performance of the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM) in 2011.


Tomoki Sakata

Vendome Virtuoso Prize

Japanese pianist Tomoki Sakata “demonstrated virtuosity, considerable color and expressivity” (Dallas Morning News) during the 2013 Cliburn Competition, earning him a place among the top six finalists. Just 22 years old, he is building a reputation for a “youthful overabundance of talent” that creates “its own visceral excitement” (Theater Jones).

In 2016, Mr. Sakata won the 1st Prize along with 6 special prizes at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Budapest by a unanimous vote. He has made recital, chamber and concerto appearances throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S.A and Africa, in such major Concert halls as Dvořâk Hall in Prague, Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Salle Cortot in Paris, Philharmonie de Luxembourg, RSI Auditorium Stelio Molo in Lugano, and Teatro Grande di Brescia, as soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony, Lublin Philharmonic, Czech National Symphony, Hungarian Radio Symphony, l’Orchestre Phiharmonique de Maroc, Tokyo City Philharmonic, Sendai Philharmonic, and Kanagawa Philharmonic Orxhestras, working with such conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Randall Craig Fleisher, Vladimír Válek, Gergely Kesselyák and Hikotaro Yazaki, as a chamber musician, working with the members of Tokyo Quartet, and Brentano Quartet. His performances were broadcasted on the Radio and TV in Switzerland (Radio Suisse Romande and Radio Svizzera Italiana), Russia (KulturaTV), Czech Republic, Hungary, the U.S.A., Japan and many others.

He has appeared in numerous international music festivals, including the Brussels Piano Festival, International Music Festival “Janáčkův máj” (Czech Republic), and the 12th International Festival “Musical Kremlin” (Russia) at the invitation of Nikolai Petrov. Octavia Records released Mr. Sakata’s debut disc in spring 2015, featuring works by Liszt, Scriabin, Debussy, Chopin, and Rachmaninov. He has also recorded the soundtrack for the popular Japanese manga series “Your Lie in April.”

Born in Nagoya in 1993, Mr. Sakata began piano lessons at the age of 5 and began improvising and composing at age 6. He has received private lessons by Paul Badura-Skoda since the age of 16. In 2011, he was admitted as the youngest student of The Lake Como International Piano Academy, where he has taken masterclasses with many music prominents including Dimitri Bashkirov and Tamás Vásáry. After study with Hideto Nishikawa and Kenji Watanabe at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, he currently studies with Arie Vardi at Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover in Germany.


Ruoyu Huang

Vendome Virtuoso Prize

Pianist/composer Ruoyu Huang currently studies at The Cleveland Institute of Music with Sergei Babayan. In his earlier years, in 2002–2006, he was at the Sichaun Conservatory of Music with Daxin Zhen. Ruoyu Huang moved to the USA in 2006 and was invited to attend the Curtis Institute of Music where he earned his Bachelor of Music and studied with Seymour Lipkin up until 2012. Ruoyu Huang’s studies continued at The Juilliard School between 2012–2014 under Robert McDonald and Yoheved Kaplinsky and in 2014–2016 he made his Master of Music with Sergei Babayan.

In the early stages of his career, in 2000, Ruoyu Huang won 1st Prize in the Xinghai Cup, the largest national prize for Chinese youth, which set the tone for his successful competition career and led to an invitation to perform in a concert with noted pianist Xiang-Dong Kong. His other performance credits include the China National Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and Chengdu Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, Ruoyu Huang was invited by the Chinese National Performance Management to play four concerts in the Chinese Great National Theatre, Qingdao, Wuhan and Ningbong. That same year, he premiered his two piano concertos at his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music. In 2013 he was awarded the Chopin Special Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition and in 2014 he won the Munz Piano Competition at Juilliard.