South Korean violinist Seohyun Kim wins $20,000, as well as future concert engagements and career support

cooper finalists

Left to right; Thomas Cooper, Calvin Alexander (3rd place), Seohyun Kim (1st place), Sameer Agrawal (2nd place), and Evon Cooper |

The eleventh annual Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition took place between 15-19 August 2022, at Ohio’s Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Following the final round on 19 August, 13-year-old South Korean violinist Seohyun Kim took first prize, while Sameer Agrawal (17, US) and Calvin Alexander (17, US) took second and third prize respectively. The three finalists performed concertos with the Canton Symphony Orchestra, directed by Gerhardt Zimmermann.

As well as a cash prize of $20,000, Kim wins a two-year partnership with MKI Artists that will include up to 10 concerto or recital engagements throughout the United States. She has been granted exclusive rights to the world premiere of a new six-minute work for violin and orchestra by Jeff Scott and two years of performances. Additionally, Jonathan Solars Fine Violins of New York will provide a two-year loan of a rare Italian violin.

Agrawal and Alexander won $10,000 and $5,000 cash prizes respectively. Each of the finalists has been offered a four-year tuition scholarship, after a successful application process, to Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Kim was born in 2008 and began playing the violin at the age of five. She is currently studying with Sunny Lee in Seoul Central Conservatory and received mentoring from artists including Pavel Vernikov, Ulf Wallin, Min Kim, Clara Jumi Kang, Qian Zhou, Clara Cernat and Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici. She has performed with many ensembles as a soloist since the age of eight, and in 2021 was a semifinalist at the Menuhin Competition.

The jury for the 2022 competition consisted of Oberlin violin professor and competition director Sibbi Bernhardsson, as well as Danielle Belen from the University of Michigan, Philip Setzer of the Emerson Quartet, and John Zion of MKI Artists. 

Founded in 2010, the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition alternates between piano and violin disciplines. The competition is open to musicians between the ages of 13 and 18, giving the young finalists the opportunity to perform a complete concerto with orchestra. Previous violin winners include US violinist Eric Charles Chen in 2019 Swedish violinist Johan Dalene in 2017.