Cellist Andrew Byun ’25 GD Wins First Prize at Windsor Festival International String Competition

Cellist Andrew Byun ’25 GD won first prize at the 9th Windsor Festival International String Competition (WFISC) on March 15. The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron of the Windsor Festival, presented Byun with the trophy at Eton College following the competition’s final round, during which he gave a shining performance of I-Sang Yun, Paul Hindemith, and Franke Bridge.  

Andrew Byun ’25 GD
The Duke of Edinburgh awarding cellist Andrew Byun first prize | Gill Heppell/Windsor Festival

For his win, Byun receives a £5,000 cash prize, a solo recording opportunity with Champs Hill Records, concerto performances with several orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Orpheus Sinfonia, and recital opportunities across Europe.  

Byun studies cello with faculty member Laurence Lesser at NEC. He was also a student at NEC Prep from 2012-2016. Earlier this year, Byun was awarded the Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award and performed alongside the Borromeo String Quartet in Jordan Hall. A virtuosic young cellist quickly on the rise, the upcoming season will include Byun's debut with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orpheus Sinfonia, recitals across the UK and Italy, and his debut album released with Champs Hill Records.

Cellist and current Artist Diploma student Leland Ko ’24 AD was also a finalist at the WFISC, earning third prize. Ko studies at NEC with Yeesun Kim and Donald Weilerstein

The 2024 WFISC judges panel comprised Japanese violinist Joji Hattori, Norwegian violist Lars Anders Tomter, British cellist Natalie Clein, festival director Martin Denny, Champs Hill executive producer Alexander Van Ingen, and managing director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra James Williams.

This year's competition was not the first time NEC students and alums have earned top honors at the WFISC. In 2019, cellist Jonathan Swensen ’23 AD, another student of Laurence Lesser, received first prize.