Near double-joy for Canada at the Chopin Competition

Near double-joy for Canada at the Chopin Competition


norman lebrecht

October 21, 2015

The judges dithered until after midnight before reaching a verdict. When it came, the public favourite won.

Seong-Jin Cho, 21, of South Korea received his ovation with appropriate humility.


But the long deliberations led to leaks that the verdict had been close.

Just behind Cho, in second place, came Charles Richard-Hamelin, 26, from Francophone Canada. On a day that Canada elected a Francophone prime minister, this was almost a double celebration.

charles-richard hamelin

In third place was Kate Liu of the USA.

Extra prizes:

Fryderyk Chopin Society Prize for best performance of a polonaise (3 000 €) – Seong-Jin Cho

Polish Radio Prize for best performance of mazurkas (5 000 €) – Kate Liu

Krystian Zimerman Prize for best performance of a sonata (10 000 €) – Charles Richard-Hamelin

It was that close.

UPDATE: Whispers from the jury room here.


  • Wray Armstrong says:

    Canada’s new prime minister is the son of a French-Canadian father and an English-Canadian mother, so really the theoretically perfect Canadian… but more accurately fully bilingual as opposed to ‘francophone’.

    • CDH says:

      And Justin Trudeau’s paternal grandmother was Scottish, so he is really 3/4 anglophone!

      The joy in Canada is tempered. The post-election call-ins yesterday prominently featured very blue Blue voters. In characteristic fashion, they think the sky has fallen and the end is nigh.

  • Mike says:

    No wonder the deliberations took such a long time: Cho, Hamelin, Liu, they are all fantastic in their own personal way.
    As for Canada and Chopin: after years of suffering that pretentious boylord, finally we have some top notch, mature, distinctive Chopin playing from a Canadian pianist – even two, since Tony Yang is Canadian as well. It’s a great day for Canada indeed!

    • WSK says:

      “Top notch, mature, distinctive Chopin playing from a Canadian pianist” has been around for more than 40 years- Janina Fialkowska, hailed by Arthur Rubinstein himself as “a born Chopin interpreter”.

  • debussyste says:

    I will go to his concerts ! It’s a real musician !

  • Erwin says:

    His name is Charles Richard-Hamelin, not Charles-Richard Hamelin. And where did you get that information that he is the nephew of M.-A. Hamelin? If it’s true, it’s a well kept secret.

    • Mike says:

      Charles Richard-Hamelin is Marc Andre’s nephew in the same way Maria Milstein ( Dublin Competition) is Nathan Milstein non existent niece.

  • Emil says:

    Of course, Justin Trudeau is bilingual (one Francophone and one Anglophone parent), but let’s not let facts get in the way.