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Great orchestras to mesmerize Seoul

Month of February packed with performances by renowned orchestras


Star conductors leading world-class orchestras are flocking to Seoul, offering a chance to appreciate their powerful symphonic sounds.

The list of prestigious orchestras coming to Korea this year includes the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. And they all are to perform in this month.

February’s flock of foreign orchestras has happened as part of several Asia tours that started after the New Year holiday season. Some stop by on their way to Hong Kong Arts Festival, one of the biggest art events in the region, which ends on March 8.

Orchestras are focusing on Asia mainly because of the fast-growing markets in China and partly due to the economic troubles of Europe and North America. China now has more of new concert venues available and has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people rich enough to buy expensive tickets.
Chung Myung-whun will conduct the Royal ConcertgebouwOrchestra on Feb. 21-22 at Seoul Arts Center. (CREDIA)
Chung Myung-whun will conduct the Royal ConcertgebouwOrchestra on Feb. 21-22 at Seoul Arts Center. (CREDIA)

“Orchestras plan to come to Asia more often than before. And more of orchestras are coming to Korea as part of their Asian tour,” Han Jeong-ho, publicist for Vincero Arts Management and Entertainment, said.

“They don’t want to miss Korea for their Asian tour, even though they make profits only with concerts in China and Japan,” he added.

The most anticipated concert is the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, lauded as the top symphony orchestra in the world. The Amsterdam-based orchestra will perform on Tuesday and Wednesday under the baton of Chung Myung-whun at Seoul Arts Center. The Korean conductor on Tuesday will lead a program of Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta,” Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in collaboration with Dutch violist Janine Jansen and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

The orchestra will also hold another concert on the next day with programs of the Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 with Kim Sun-wook who became the youngest pianist to win the prestigious Leeds Competition in 2006. Tickets range from 70,000 to 400,000 won. For more information, call 1577-5266.

London Symphony Orchestra, Britain’s top orchestra also comes to Seoul for the first time in six years in the last week of February. 
Valery Gergiev will lead the London Symphony Orchestra on Feb.27-28 at Seoul Arts Center. (Vincero)
Valery Gergiev will lead the London Symphony Orchestra on Feb.27-28 at Seoul Arts Center. (Vincero)
Georg Christoph Biller will lead the Gewandhaus Orchestra & Thomanerchor on Feb. 23 at Seoul Arts Center. (Vincero)
Georg Christoph Biller will lead the Gewandhaus Orchestra & Thomanerchor on Feb. 23 at Seoul Arts Center. (Vincero)
Founded in 1904 as an independent, self-governing organization, the orchestra was the first of its kind in Britain. It has long been considered the most extroverted of the London orchestras.

Now led by Valery Gergiev, one of the world’s most beloved conductors, the concert will feature Korean-American violinist Sarah Chang and Russian pianist Denis Matsuev.

Matsuev, the winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, has given several recitals here since 2002. The orchestra will play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in collaboration with Matsuev and Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Chang. Tickets to the concert Feb. 27-28 at the Seoul Arts Center range in price from 70,000 to 350,000 won. For more information, call (02) 599-5743.

One of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra will visit Korea with Thomanerchor, a boys’ choir founded in 1212, for the third time to perform Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion.

The Gewandhaus Orchestra is named after the concert hall based in Leipzig. The Thomanerchor, or St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig consists of 92 boys aged 9-18.

The orchestra will be conducted by Georg Christoph Biller, a German choral conductor who has been leading Thomanerchor since 1992. Tickets to the concert at the Seoul Arts Center on Feb. 23 will range from 30,000 to 180,000 won. For more information, call (02) 599-5743.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)
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