HELSINKI, FINLAND Oct. 25 — Twenty-three year old cellist Brannon Cho of the United States was awarded First Prize at the 2018 Paulo International Cello Competition.

Joint 2nd prize was awarded to 19- year-old Zlatomir Fung of the United States and 23- year-old Minji Kim of South Korea.  

Joint 4th prize was awarded to 24-year-old Timotheos Petrin from Greece, 19-year-old Leonardo Chiodo from Finland and 21-year-old Bryan Cheng from Canada.


Brannon Cho: A graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, where he studied with Hans Jørgen Jensen, and current Artist Diploma student of Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory, Brannon is a former major prize winner at the Naumburg, Cassadó and Johansen International Cello Competitions – and in June of last year, was awarded a prize at the inaugural Queen Elisabeth International Cello Competition, in Belgium.

Cho advanced through the first round of competition, performing  Boccherini’s Sonata in C major, and was named one of nine semi-finalists. His performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on October 20 earned Cho a spot in the finals as one of six competitors.

In the two-part final round of competition, Cho performed the Haydn C Major Concerto with Tapiola Sinfonietta on Tuesday, October 23, and the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Susanna Mälkki on Thursday, October 25, followed by an encore performance of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 in D major.

The 2018 jury comprised: Arto Noras, Frans Helmerson, Maria Kliegel, Laurence Lesser, Ivan Monighetti, Philippe Muller, Li-Wei Qin, Martti Rousi and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi.

Previous winners of the International Paulo Cello Competition include Xavier Phillips (1991), Hai-Ye Ni (1996), Enrico Bronzi (2002), Andreas Brantelid (2007), and Kian Soltani (2013). The Paulo Foundation is the main patron of Paulo International Cello Competition.