After being left vacant for nearly a year, the post of music director for the KBS Symphony Orchestra has been taken up by maestro Yoel Levi.
Born in Romania but raised in Israel, Levi, with his rich international experience including the U.S. and Europe, is said to be the perfect fit for the orchestra, which aims at becoming the best in Asia.
Levi has performed with the orchestra five times as a guest conductor in the past 16 years. And he will be leading the “Masterpiece Series III” concert on Friday at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall. They will be joined by pianist Georgy Gromov, cellist Yang Sung-won and violinist Clara Jumi Kang, featuring Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture Op. 82,” and Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56; as well as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36.
|KBS Symphony Orchestra music director Yoel Levi speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)|
“In May I was able to perform with the orchestra. We played pieces by Brahms and Strauss, where you really have to execute and listen carefully. Everything came together and I found tremendous potential here.
“I am sure that it could become one of the finest orchestras in Asia. My job is to provide leadership, direction and expertise to reach the next level,” Levi said at a press conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. Levi will be with the orchestra for 12 weeks a year.
Levi’s appointment will bring Korean classical music lovers closer to Mahler as the conductor is an acclaimed interpreter of the Austrian composer, whose symphonies have lately become popular among classical music aficionados.
“Mahler is my favorite and I am sure that we will present one Mahler symphony every year,” he said.
Leading the KBS orchestra is more than just a musical burden on Levi’s shoulders ― the previously state-subsidized orchestra was privatized in 2012, which has many members anxious about job security. There is lingering conflict between the management and members, and on Tuesday Levi was bombarded with questions about his position on leadership and vision in handling members, including whether he will strictly “weed out incompetent members,” as rumored.
“There seems to be some sort of obsession about audition here. But let me tell you ― every concert is actually an audition for us. Every time you stand on the podium and present your music is an audition. We can name it differently such as rehearsal or actual concert but in reality it is. That’s life. Life is an audition. We don’t need a special ‘audition’ at the moment but we should be clear about what we do,” Levi said.
“My job is not to make the orchestra afraid. But leadership comes from knowledge and when musicians get to know that I have the right ears, knowledge and mind for music, they will naturally be respectful. My door is open to them. They should come to me for anything,” he said.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com