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Osmo Vanska’s 2021 SPO season to begin with Sibelius

Percussionist Bak Hye-ji to perform with SPO this week

Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska (Kang Tae-uk/SPO)
Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska (Kang Tae-uk/SPO)

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director, Osmo Vanska, will deliver his first performance of the 2021 season Thursday and Friday at the Lotte Concert Hall in eastern Seoul.

At this week’s performances, the orchestra will present Bartok’s “Dance Suite,” Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39, and Eotvos’ “Speaking Drums” for percussion solo and orchestra, featuring percussionist Bak Hye-ji, under the baton of Vanska.

After performing the Hungarian composer Bartok’s playful “Dance Suite” inspired by authentic Hungarian folk music and melodies from Turkey, Romania and the Middle East, Vanska, a Sibelius specialist, will lead the orchestra for the Finnish composer’s first symphony.

Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 is characterized by its second movement, inspired by Finnish folk music.

The Finnish conductor and the Minnesota Orchestra’s recording of Sibelius’ symphonies No. 1 and No. 4 won the annual award from the German Record Critics’ Award Association in 2013 and the Grammy for best orchestral performance in 2014.
 
Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska (Kang Tae-uk/SPO)
Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska (Kang Tae-uk/SPO)

Percussionist Pak will present Eotvos’ “Speaking Drums” for percussion solo and orchestra, which begins with “tanzlied” (dance songs), continues to “nonsense songs” and wraps up with passacaglia, featuring diverse percussion instruments such as the drums, cowbell, gong, tam-tam, timpani, wood block and marimba.

According to the orchestra, the soloist moves between the percussion instruments on the stage, sometimes “making sounds with no meaning,” as the composition focuses more on how to deliver a message rather than the message itself.

Pak studied at the University of Music Stuttgart in Germany. In 2019, she won first prize for percussion at the Geneva International Music Competition, along with six other prizes.

Meanwhile, the Seoul City-funded orchestra is currently led by Yoo Yeon-sik, the chief of the city government’s cultural division, following the departure of Kang Eun-kyung in February at the end of her three-year tenure. The new head of the orchestra is expected to be appointed before June.

Tickets for Thursday and Friday’s concerts cost between 10,000 won and 90,000 won.

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