The Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will make a concrete transformation this year through a new season that showcases its own productions, Ahn Ho-sang, the CEO of the institution, said Tuesday.
“While we focused on bringing the best artists -- who I can guarantee as the best in their respective fields, to Sejong Center last year -- this year we’ll focus on providing more quality original works,” Ahn told reporters on Tuesday during a press conference.
For the 2023 season from March 15 to Dec. 31 at the Sejong Center, which operates nine performing arts companies under its wing, there will be 251 performances of 28 works. The 28 works include 16 well-received repertories from last year and 12 new productions. Of the 28 works, 23 works will be performed by Sejong Center's resident art companies.
Some of the signature performances include the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre’s “One Dance,” the Seoul Metropolitan Musical Theatre’s “Again, My Life” and “The Picture Bride” and the Seoul Metropolitan Theatre’s “Kiss” and “Getting Out.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Opera will present “The Magic Flute” from March 30 to April 2 and “Turandot” from Oct. 26 to 29.
A highlight of the 2023 season is the Munich Philharmonic concert on Nov. 29 with young star pianist Lim Yun-chan, led by maestro Chung Myung-whun. Pianists Lim Dong-hyek, Park Jae-hong and Lee Hyuck will also perform as part of the Sejong Chamber Series from June 12 to 17.
“We’re seeing an explosive demand for performances. Having said that, we’re a bit worried as a noncommercial art institution at accelerating polarization in the performing arts, spurred by star-centered performances,” said Ahn, a theater veteran who also served CEO of the National Theater of Korea.
“The Sejong Center has become a new place with the opening of Gwanghwamun Square. Now that people can reach the center on foot, they will feel closer to the center. At the same time, for the same reason, I feel a great sense of responsibility to reflect these changes in the surroundings,” he added.
The Sejong Center is home to the Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Music Orchestra, the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre, the Seoul Metropolitan Chorus, the Seoul Metropolitan Musical Theater, the Seoul Metropolitan Theatre, the Seoul Metropolitan Opera, the Seoul Youth Orchestra, Seoul Metropolitan Junior Chorus and Seoul Metropolitan Youth Traditional Music Ensemble.
Most of the performances in 2023 will take place at the center’s Grand Theater, M Theater, S Theater and Chamber Hall. Some Sejong Center art companies' performances will be staged at the National Theater of Korea and Lotte Concert Hall as part of the center’s efforts to reach more citizens of Seoul.
Meanwhile, the Sejong Center, which was built in 1978, will get its first remodeling starting in 2025 or 2026, later than originally planned, Ahn said.
In October 2022, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon unveiled a plan to remodel the Sejong Center, turning the cultural complex into a global cultural icon like the Sydney Opera House or New York's Carnegie Hall. At the time, Oh said that the construction could start as early as this year with a view to unveil the new center in 2028. However, the remodeling of city property is a long process including a feasibility study that will kick off in March, followed by a budget approval. Once a budget has been secured, a global design competition will be held, according to the Sejong Center.