Brian Kim has won the top prize at the 2019 Australian Flute Festival in Sydney, taking out first place in the Open Flute Competition. Kim, who is currently studying at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris with professor Philippe Bernold, returned home to win first prize in the biennial festival’s Open Flute Competition after representing Australia at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia.

Brian KimBrian Kim

Kim has enjoyed success at previous Australian Flute Festivals, coming first in the Young Artist Competition in 2013 and 2015. “It feels absolutely awesome to have won the Open Competition at the Australian Flute Festival,” he told Limelight. “I’ve been to every flute festival since 2011 and I remember watching this competition at my first festival thinking, ‘Wow, am I ever going to be as good as these people?’ Eight years later, I’m so honoured and grateful to have won this competition as the whole Australian flute community has been so special to me throughout the years.”

After making it through the Semifinals round on Friday, July 5, Kim performed three movements from Charles Widor’s Suite for flute and piano and the second and third movements from Carl Vine’s Sonata for flute and piano in the finals at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Verbrugghen Hall on July 6, competing against fellow finalists Jungah Yoon (who came in second), Lilly Yang and Antonia Berg, in front of a panel consisting of international guests Denis Bouriakov, Erin Bouriakov, Wissam Boustany, Ian Clarke and Matthias Ziegler.

“With very short time to prepare for both the semis and the finals (straight after the Tchaikovsky Competition), I was honestly quite worried going into it,” Kim said. “That definitely showed in my performance in the semis where I wasn’t fully focused in the music. Luckily, it was enough to get me through to the finals where I thought this was a second chance for me to fully focus and enjoy the music. I’m so glad I was able to completely enjoy myself in the finals and I believe that showed to the audience. I was very happy with how I played in the finals.”

Kim wasn’t the only winner at the Australian Flute Festival, with Louis Liu taking our first and Sarah Bradley second in the Young Artist Competition and Michal Rosiak and Naomi Dodd coming in first and second place respectively in the Composition Competition.

Before his success at the Australian Flute Festival, Kim was chosen as the only Australian competitor, across all divisions, to make it to the First Round of the 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition in St Petersburg, though unfortunately he didn’t progress through to the next round. So how was representing Australia in such an elite international competition? “Exciting! Nervous! Fun! Stressful! So many things… Being my first time in a competition of this calibre, I really didn’t know what to expect and I was being overwhelmed by this whole experience,” he said. “Overall, I had a great time there and performing at the Repino Hall was breathtaking. I believe I’ve learned a lot and took away a lot from this whole trip!”

What’s next for Kim? “A nice holiday in Australia!” he says. “I’m spending about a month and a bit in Australia to catch up with my family and friends! I’m going to relax and recharge to start the year again in September back in Paris.”