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SPO shares plans for 2020

Mahler, Sibelius expert conductor to take baton for orchestra, starting 2020

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s new music director Osmo Vanska will work up a wide repertoire next year, with his signature Mahler and Sibelius being prominently featured among the SPO’s 38 presentations in the 2020 season.

The expert of Mahler and Sibelius, appointed as the SPO’s music director in May, will lead six presentations next year upon kicking off his three-year tenure in January. At the inaugural concert on Feb. 14-15, the conductor will present Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor at the Lotte Concert Hall.
Osmo Vanska (Joel Larson)
Osmo Vanska (Joel Larson)

“I am incredibly honored and excited to begin my first season as the new music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra,” Vanska wrote in the orchestra’s new season book. “I have had such wonderful and fulfilling experiences with the orchestra in my previous visits, and I know that over the next few seasons we will continue to grow together, both personally and artistically.”

Vanska, from Finland, is often referred to by his nickname “orchestra builder” for his musical leadership. He led the Finland-based Lahti Symphony Orchestra and is the music director and chief conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra.

In May, he is to lead a program titled “Folksongs and Fireworks,” featuring Georges Enesco’s “Romanian Rhapsody” No. 1 in A major, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major and Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra at the Lotte Concert Hall May 21-22.

The very next week, Vanska will look into new paradigms, introducing innovative compositions that opened up a new era, such as Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for String Orchestra and Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme Enigma, Op. 36.

In August there will be the much awaited concert “Fanfare to Finland.” Vanska will take the baton for Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82, followed by Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Rautavaara’s “Requiem of Our Time” and Brett Dean’s Dramatis Personae for Trumpet and Orchestra at the Seoul Arts Center Aug. 20-21.

On Nov. 1 next year, Vanska will return with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 6, along with the Asian premier of Shin Dong-hoon’s “Kafka’s Dream,” Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53, featuring violinist Lee Ji-yoon, who is concertmaster at the Staatskapelle Berlin.

The conductor will wrap the year up with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 at the Lotte Concert Hall Dec. 19-20, 2020. Multiple choirs -- the National Choir of Korea, Seoul Motet Choir and Anyang Civic Choir -- will feature in the grand masterpiece.

Next year’s artist-in-residence at the SPO is Swedish trumpeter and conductor Hakan Hardenberger. The soloist works up a wide repertoire spanning from classical music pieces to more contemporary works.
Hardenberger Hakan (Marco Borggreve)
Hardenberger Hakan (Marco Borggreve)

The soloist will go on the stage in March and August. His presentation on Aug. 27 will feature Hardenberger as conductor. He will take the baton for Baroque music pieces written by Hertel and Emanuel Bach.

The orchestra will also have a Beethoven focus next year as the year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Currently, seven programs are slated. One in April features pianist Kim Sun-wook for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major.

Individual concert tickets for nonpaid members will open on Dec. 3. The SPO offers various package deals at a discounted rate from 15 to 30 percent. Package ticket deals open earlier this month. The opening date varies depending on the package.

For more information, visit the SPO’s official website at

By Im Eun-byel (