The Korea Herald


Herald Philharmonic rivets audiences with Western-Korean harmony

“The concert was very entertaining and wonderful. Music builds bridges between the East and the West,” Austrian Ambassador to Korea Elisabeth Bertagnoli told The Korea Herald.

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 10, 2017 - 18:06

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The Herald Philharmonic Orchestra held its fourth annual concert at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall in Seoul on Thursday, enthralling 2,000 guests with a harmony of classical Western and Korean music.

Among the guests were 30 foreign diplomats, several company heads and 30 lawyers, as well as 280 freshman cadets and 20 professors from the Korea Military Academy in Seoul. Ambassadors of the European Union, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, Austria, Thailand and Malaysia were in attendance.

Titled “A Spring Day,” the program comprised opera arias as well as traditional Korean musical performance by the orchestra in consort with a traditional Korean percussion ensemble. 

The concert opened with an overture from opera “The Bartered Bride” by Smetana, led by conductor Kim Bong-mi. Soprano Yu Seong-nyeo sang “Queen of the Night” from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” followed by “Glitter and Be Gay” from Leonard Bernstein’s operetta “Candide,” sung by Kim Seong-hye.

The second half of the program started with “Jupiter” from Gustav Holst’s seven-movement “The Planets” Op. 32. The rest of the evening was filled with Korean music: a “Kosa Mui” performance with the piri and taepyeongso, both traditional Korean wind instruments, as well as a “Sinmodeum” performance by gugak group Leesang.

“The concert was very entertaining and wonderful. Music builds bridges between the East and the West,” Austrian Ambassador to Korea Elisabeth Bertagnoli told The Korea Herald.

Noting that music by Johann Strauss was performed on traditional Korean and Western instruments, she said “Austria and Korea have a lot in common because we love culture, music and innovation.” 

Marking the 125th anniversary of bilateral relations, the Austrian Embassy will organize a spring concert on April 12 with the Hayden Chamber Ensemble.

Spanish Ambassador to Korea Gonzalo Ortiz who has attended the event two consecutive years said in an interview that the program was “well designed with a good mix of traditional Korean music and Western classical music.”

“The Korea Military Academy choir’s performance added a unique aspect to the whole repertoire,” the envoy said. Describing the Spanish music as “very cheerful and full of energy and life” and mixing well with flamenco, Ortiz said he wants to promote more Spanish orchestras and classical guitar groups to Korea.

“The concert was a very good experience for new ambassadors like me in getting to know Korean culture,” said Thai Ambassador to Korea Sarun Charoensuwan. “We are used to seeing talented K-pop artists, who are hugely popular across Southeast Asia, but today we listened to wonderful music by Korea’s classical artists as well.”

“Korea is successful in not only promoting its own culture, but incorporating and emulating other countries’ arts as well,” he added.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and next year is the 60th anniversary of Thailand-Korea relations, various cultural, culinary, musical, artistic and touristic events are being planned, according to the envoy.

Choi Byung-ro, superintendent of the Korea Military Academy, lauded the Herald Philharmonic for its sterling performance, adding the event served as an “enlightening” and “ennobling” experience for the cadets.

By Joel Lee (