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SPO comes up with 4-month plan for 2021

Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra releases season programs from January to April, coping with pandemic times

Music director Osmo Vanska and the SPO greet the audience at the Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul on Nov. 27 (SPO)
Music director Osmo Vanska and the SPO greet the audience at the Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul on Nov. 27 (SPO)
Though it is customary for an orchestra to release the upcoming year’s program in December, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra shared its schedule for only the first four months of 2021 in concern of possible interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SPO, which went through a difficult year like many other art troupes and institutions around the world, is looking forward to a better 2021 with a total of 13 performances, consisting of 11 orchestral music presentations and two chamber music recitals.

To deal with a possible resurgence of COVID-19 infections, each performance will leave one seat empty between every audience member.

Music Director Osmo Vanska, who went through multiple quarantine periods to go on stage in Seoul this year, will return to Korea in April for a total of four performances. 

Music director Osmo Vanska (SPO)
Music director Osmo Vanska (SPO)


On April 15 and 16, Vanska will lead the orchestra to present celebrated Korean contemporary music composer Chin Un-suk’s new work “Subito con Forza” and the Finnish conductor’s signature repertoire Sibelius, Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39.

The following week, the SPO will present Bartok, Dance Suite and Beethoven, Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 under the baton of Vanska.

“I prepared defiant, interesting yet lesser-known works for the 2021 season of the SPO. It is a time when every performance counts more than ever,” Vanska said through a press release shared by the SPO on Thursday.

“The power of positivity in music is needed more than ever. I hope that the SPO’s music can bring joy and energy to everyone,” he said.

Apart from maestro Vanska, the SPO will also feature young, aspiring conductors from Korea.

Conductor Sung Shi-yeon will kick off the year on Jan. 20 and 21, lifting the baton for Haydn, Symphony No. 44 in E minor, Hob.I : 44 “Trauer” and Mozart, Requiem in D minor, K. 626 (Franz Beyer edition).

Associate Conductor Wilson Ng will take the stage Feb. 18-19, presenting more modern works by Blacher, Scriabin and Hindemith to take advantage of Lotte Concert Hall’s acoustics.

Assistant Conductor David Yi will present the Korean premiere of Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11, which the great mind composed before he turned 20 years old, on March 5.

Executive Conductor Choi Soo-yeol of the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra will present works by Elgar, Britten and Tchaikovsky on March 25-26, joined by celebrated soprano Im Sun-hae.

The SPO will feature Austrian drummer and multi-percussionist Martin Grubinger as its Artist in Focus next year. Grubinger will stay in Seoul in April and participate in four orchestral performances and a chamber music recital, along with a master class.

Percussionist Martin Grubinger (SPO)
Percussionist Martin Grubinger (SPO)

Grubinger will present John Corigliano, “Conjurer: concerto for percussionist and string orchestra,” April 15-16, and the Korean premiere of Avner Dorman, “Frozen in Time,” April 21-22.

Season package tickets will open on Dec. 29. Individual tickets will go on sale beginning Jan. 5. For more information, check the SPO’s official website at www.seoulphil.or.kr.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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