The Korea Herald


Chung aims for another high note for Seoul Phil

By Korea Herald

Published : Jan. 16, 2014 - 19:53

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Chung Myung-whun. (Yonhap News) Chung Myung-whun. (Yonhap News)
Nine years have passed since Chung Myung-whun took the helm of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. But his goal has not changed since the day he took over as music director.

“The advancement of the orchestra ― that is my only goal,” the maestro said. “I ask one thing from all members ― be better every day.”

That is tough, he admitted, but ceaseless efforts are the only way for the orchestra to advance to the global level.

“World-class orchestras are still way ahead of us,” the pianist-turned-conductor said.

Despite his modesty, few in Korea’s classical musical community would deny that the Seoul Philharmonic has grown by leaps and bounds under his leadership.

It may be far below the standard of some internationally acclaimed orchestras in Europe and America, but it is fast approaching the top class of Asia, a growing market for classical music.

In 2010, Seoul Phil clinched a deal with major music label Deutsche Grammophon for 10 CDs ― two a year ― the first deal of the kind between an Asian orchestra and a big-name label.

It has since released six recordings and is now working on the seventh ― three concertos (piano, cello and sheng) by Chin Unsuk, the orchestra’s composer in residence.

The orchestra will join the London Proms this summer, one of the world’s greatest classical music festivals, another first for an Asian orchestra. It will also perform at the Edinburgh Festival.

“I believe that recordings and tours are the two most important pillars for the development of an orchestra,” Chung said.

By Lee Sun-young