Singapore teen wins Korea International Harp Competition , Latest Music News - The New Paper

Singapore teen wins Korea International Harp Competition

Practising 25 hours a week has paid off for harpist Renee Yadav.

The 18-year-old student from the School of the Arts (Sota) beat 29 competitors from 12 countries to take first place in the Young Professional category of the Korea International Harp Competition.

Held in Seoul from April 24 to 28, the 2024 edition of the event drew about 90 harpists from 19 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Taiwan, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Japan and China, competing in various categories.

Yadav was in “absolute disbelief” when her name was called as the winner of the Young Professional division, which was the top category and open to all harpists aged 32 years old and under.

“It was a privilege to perform alongside so many wonderful harpists for such a distinguished panel of musicians. To be awarded the first prize was beyond my wildest dreams, and I am incredibly thankful for this award,” the music student told The Straits Times.

She bagged 2 million won (S$1,981) in prize money, a trophy and a solo recital in Italy scheduled for 2025, which will be presented by Salvi Harps, an Italian harp manufacturing company. Yadav will also be performing at the next Korean International Harp Competition opening concert in 2026.

Yadav said her teacher, Katryna Tan of Rave Harps, encouraged her to challenge herself by participating in a higher category instead of taking part in the Youth division for harpists aged 18 years and below.

“The Young Professional category was highly competitive, with many seasoned harpists already studying in various prestigious conservatories,” said Yadav.

The avid harpist, who learned to play the stringed musical instrument at age seven, had taken part in several international competitions including the Felix Godefroid Harp Competition held in Belgium in 2022, where she was awarded the first prize in the Excellence category.

She was also awarded fourth place in the Junior Category of the Nippon Harp Competition held in Japan in 2018.

For the South Korean competition, Yadav had to deliver a 30-minute repertoire, which “required many hours of focused practice and dedicated preparation”. 

Her preparation started seven months before the competition. “In the weeks leading up to the competition, I increased my practice to almost 25 hours a week. This helped to train not only my physical but also my mental stamina, preparing me to perform a 30-minute programme.”

Yadav also had to juggle practice time with school work, as the competition was held after her school exams. 

“I flew to Seoul after completing a stressful two weeks of (school) submissions and tests,” she said.

“Time management was essential to juggle both my school commitments and practice time while still maintaining a healthy balance between work and rest.

“The support from my teachers, family and friends was also greatly appreciated, and they were all extremely understanding of the many tasks I was juggling.”

Yadav revealed that being a performer can be “lonely as a big part of a musician’s life is spending hours in a practice room”.

However, the talented youth will follow her passion and hopes to continue her music studies in a conservatory in the US or Europe after graduating from Sota.

“I hope to get a scholarship to support this next step in my education,” said Yadav. 

“My dream is to become a harpist who can travel and perform, sharing my music with people from all over the world.”