Bokyung Byun becomes first female winner of JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Following tonight’s final round performance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bokyung Byun of  South Korea won first place and Musician’s Choice in the eighth biennial JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition. Byun is the first woman to win the Competition. Tengue “TY” Zhang of China captured Audience Favorite and second place. Congyi Zhang won third place, and also received the inaugural William and Carol Greiner Award, encouraging the performance of lesser-known works, for his performance of Ernesto Cordero’s Concierto Antillano.

Eight classical guitarists, representing five nations, competed throughout the week. After a round of semi-finals performed with an accompanist, the judges’ panel chose three finalists to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under Music Director JoAnn Falletta, herself a classical guitarist.

Byun will receive a solo concert at the Fondazione La Società dei Concerti in a recital among the series “Winners!” of Incontri Musicali at Gaber Auditorium in Milano, Italy, along with a $10,000 cash prize, national and international broadcast exposure, and a return engagement with the BPO.

Byun began playing guitar at age 6. At the age of 11, she began going on concert tours in Korea. By her teen years, she had won competitions held by the Korea Guitar Association, the Music Association of Korea, and the Guitar Foundation of America. She was the first guitarist ever to be admitted to Juilliard’s undergraduate guitar program. She is now pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Southern California as the recipient of the prestigious International Artist Fellowship. She is 23. Byun performed Concerto pour Guitare et Petit Orchestra by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Salseado from Sonata for Guitar by Roberto Sierra.

Tengue Zhang, who often goes by “TY,”  was the First Prize winner of the 2017 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artists Competition. He studied in China at the Music School of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and has been a student of Sharon Isbin at The Juilliard School since 2012, where he received his B.M. and M.M. His debut CD will be released on the Naxos label later this month. He is 24. TY will receive $3000.

Congyi Zhang is from Beijing, China, and is currently living in New York City. Congyi first learned to play classical guitar under his father’s instruction at age 8. He attended Central Conservatory of Music of China Middle School, graduated from Central Conservatory of Music of China in Beijing in 2016 with his Bachelor of Music degree, and is now a first year Master of Music scholarship student at Mannes School of Music in New York City. Congyi will receive a $1000 cash prize for his third-place win and a $3000 cash prize from the Greiner Award.

Buffalo-based Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio, a well-known international chamber   ensemble guitar duo, are the Competition’s artistic directors. In addition to Castellani and Andriaccio, the live competitions were judged by guitarists Francisco Bernier and Irina Kulikova; composer Eric Sessler; guitarist and educator Michael Newman; artistic agent Sean Samimi; and audio engineer David Dusman.


Facebook: We have a winner! Bokyung Byun of South Korea is the first female winner of the  JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition #fallettacomp18

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  About the Competition

Founded in 2004 and organized by WNED ǀ WBFO and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the competition is one of the foremost musical events in the world and the first concerto competition for classical guitarists. It is named in honor of the BPO’s music director, JoAnn Falletta. Past winners include Marcin Dylla, Marko Topchii, and Celil Refik Kaya. For more information about the competition, visit .

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