Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra
|Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra|
|Revised Romanization||Seoul Sirip Gyohyang Akdan|
|McCune–Reischauer||Sŏul Sirip Kyohyang Akdan|
The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO), founded in 1948, is one of the oldest and most famous orchestras in South Korea. Its first foreign tour came on a 1965 trip to Japan, followed by performances in Southeast Asia in 1977, the United States in 1982, 1986 and 1996, a 1988 tour of Europe before the Seoul Olympics that year, and a 1997 performance in Beijing. The Philharmonic is an incorporated foundation since 2005. Its current music director is Myung-Whun Chung.
The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO), which was founded in January 1948, has a longer history than any other Korean orchestra. In February 1948, the orchestra held its opening concert, conducted by Maestro Seong-Tae Kim. In October of the same year, the Seoul Philharmonic Society was formed to provide support for the orchestra. The society published the music monthly Philharmony in the following year. After a subscription concert in the Seoul Civic Hall on June 25, 1950, the orchestra had to suspend its activities due to the outbreak of the Korean War, but resumed performance with the name of the Naval Symphony Orchestra, just five months later, to soothe the broken hearts of Koreans during the war.
In August 1957, the Seoul Metropolitan Council passed "The Seoul Metropolitan Ordinances to Install a City-Run Orchestra", the Naval Symphony Orchestra became the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the first Korean orchestra funded by a government. The launching ceremony for the orchestra with triple winds took place in the city council’s chamber. Saeng-Ryo Kim was appointed its first Chief Conductor. Since then, the SPO has helped the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky take root as basic repertoire in the Korean music community.
It was through these concerts that such names as Kyung-Sook Lee, Kun-Woo Paik, Kyung-Wha Chung, Dong-Suk Kang and Myung-Whun Chung, who have finally become maestros to represent the Korean music community, were able to blossom.
With the aim of growing to a major orchestra, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra was re-launched as an incorporated foundation on June 1, 2005 and appointed Myung-Whun Chung as its Music Director (he had been Artistic Advisor in 2005).
The orchestra under Chung performed the nine symphonies of Beethoven in 2006 and all of the symphonies and concertos of Brahms in 2007.
Since the re-launch as an incorporated foundation, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra has been performing with such world-class conductors as Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Dutoit, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Alexander Frey, Pinchas Zukerman, James Judd, David Afkham, Pascal Rophe, Kirill Karabits, Mikko Franck, Andrey Boreyko, and Francois-Xavier Roth, as well as such distinguished musicians as András Schiff (Pf), Martha Argerich (Pf), Kyung-wha Chung (Vn), Viviane Hagner (Vn), Alexander Melnikov (Pf), Ilya Gringolts (Vn), Julian Lloyd Webber(Vc), Valentina Lisitsa (Pf), Nicholas Angelich (Pf), Hakan Hardenberger (Tp), Leonidas Kavakos (Vn), Arcadi Volodos (Pf), Gary Graffman (Pf), Colin Currie (Per.), Alexei Lubimov (Pf), Martin Frost (Cl), and Heinz Holliger (Ob).
Focus is also placed on interaction with modern music: the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra adopted the composer-in-residence system for the first time in Korea when it was re-launched as an incorporated foundation, and welcomed Unsuk Chin as its first Composer-in-Residence. Ms Chin is founder-director of a series of modern music titled Ars Nova since 2006. It has featured conductors such as Peter Eötvös, Kwamé Ryan, Susanna Mälkki, François-Xavier Roth, Ilan Volkov and Roland Kluttig, among others. Until 2011, the series had presented around 100 Korean premieres - the half of them being Asian premieres - of works by leading modern composers such as Charles Ives, Anton von Webern, Olivier Messiaen, John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez or György Kurtág. Most concerts have been of thematic nature. Featured in Fall 2006 was an orchestral concert titled Early & New, highlighting contemporary music inspired by early music. In alignment with the Beethoven Symphony Cycle, which was at the heart of the orchestra’s performances in 2006, a program called 'Different Beethoven' was presented. In Spring 2007, two 'Ligeti Memorial Concerts' were held; an analogue concept was presented in Fall 2008 with the 'Messiaen Centenary Concerts'. In Spring 2008, 'Couleurs exotiques' demonstrated how profoundly modern classical music has been influenced by non-European musical cultures; in the same season 'America' showcased the epochal innovations of American maverick composers. In 2009, the series presented IRCAM for the first time in Korea. Since 2011, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra has co-commissioned orchestral works by composers such as Pascal Dusapin, Peter Eötvös and Tristan Murail for the 'Ars Nova' series. Additionally, several commissions by major Korean composers have been premiered.  
The orchestra signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 2011 to release 10 albums over five years, making it the first time that an Asian orchestra has signed such an extensive contract.
- Principal Conductors
- Saeng-Ryeo Kim (1948-1961)
- Man-Bok Kim (1961-1969)
- Gyeong-Su Won (1970-1971 & 1994-1996)
- Jae-Dong Jeong (1974-1990)
- Eun-Seong Park (1990-1991)
- Mark Ermler (2000-2002)
- Seung Kwak (2003, also Music Director)
- Myung-Whun Chung (2006-, also Artistic Director)
- Jae-Dong Jeong (1971-1974)
- Seung Kwak (2002)
- Eun-Seong Park (1984-1989)
- Shi-Yeon Seong (2009-)
- Pal-seong Lee (2005~2008)
- Jooho Kim (2009~2012)
- Hyeon-Jeong Park (2013~ )
- Debussy: La Mer / Ravel: Ma Mère L'Oye & La Valse, conducted by Myung-whun Chung, Deutsche Grammophon 2011.
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1, conducted by Myung-whun Chung, Deutsche Grammophon 2011.
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2 Auferstehung · Resurrection, conducted by Myung-whun Chung, Deutsche Grammophon 2012.
- Peter Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 Pathétique / Sergei Rachmaninov: Vocalise op. 34 No. 14, conducted by Myung-whun Chung, Deutsche Grammophon 2012.
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 Emperor, Symphonie No. 5, conducted by Myung-whun Chung, Deutsche Grammophon 2013.
- Harders-Wuthenow, Frank. 2011. "Ars Nova" - à sa manière. Unsuk Chins bahnbrechende Konzertreihe In: 'Im Spiegel der Zeit - die Komponistin Unsuk Chin', ed. Stefan Drees (Mainz, 2011), p.205-218 ISBN 978-3-7957-0760-6.
- magazine article 
- "Seoul Philharmonic aiming to become world-class orchestra", Yonhap News, January 13, 2006.
- "Seoul Philharmonic Protests With Music", The Korea Times, March 31, 2005.
- "Das Seoul Philharmonic Ochestra erfindet sich neu", neue musikzeitung, 6/09 - 58. Jahrgang.