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Dutch conductor named Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra music director

Conductor Jaap van Zweden (Courtesy of Bert Hulselmans)
Conductor Jaap van Zweden (Courtesy of Bert Hulselmans)
Conductor Jaap van Zweden (Courtesy of Brad Trent)
Conductor Jaap van Zweden (Courtesy of Brad Trent)

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra has appointed Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden as its new music director.

The orchestra announced Sunday that the Dutch conductor, 61, will begin his five-year tenure in January 2024.

The search for the new music director began earlier this year as the current music director Osmo Vanska decided not to renew his contract, which ends at the end of the year. Vanska was appointed in January 2020.

Guest conductors will be sought for the orchestra's 2023 performances, an official from the SPO told The Korea Herald.

Van Zweden is currently the music director of the New York Philharmonic, a post he took up in 2018, and has been serving as the music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since 2012.

He has also worked with numerous leading orchestras around the world as a guest conductor, including the Orchestre de Paris, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and more.

Born in Amsterdam, Van Zweden became the youngest-ever concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the age of 19, leading the orchestra for 17 years.

He also served as chief conductor of Netherlands Radio Philharmonic (2005-2013), Royal Flanders Orchestra (2008-2011) and music director in Dallas Symphony Orchestra (2008-2018).

After winning the 2020 Concertgebouw Prize and leading the Hong Kong Philharmonic to be named as Gramophone’s 2019 Orchestra of the Year, the conductor continued his international presence on various continents.

“South Korea has caught the world’s attention with K-pop, films and drama, leading a new cultural wave across the globe. With Korea drawing international attention as the home of many promising classical musicians, I hope the SPO can establish itself as a world-class orchestra with the appointment of a top conductor as its new music director," an SPO press release Sunday quoted its CEO Sohn Eun-kyung as saying.

The SPO official told The Korea Herald that the Finnish conductor Vanska is give his last performances as SPO’s music director on Dec. 15 and 16. He will complete the orchestra's Sibelius series as a guest conductor from January to March in 2023.



By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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