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Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (Orchestra)

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) was founded in 1948 and remains Korea's oldest and most prominent orchestra. In February of 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 under 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 an ordinance to install a civic Orchestra and so the Naval Symphony Orchestra was performed as the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the first orchestra funded by the government in Korea. With the support of the government, he Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra introduced the citizens of Korea to western symphonic literature. The orchestra also focused on nurturing young musicians by holding concerts where promising children and adolescent musicians who passed the orchestra’s rigorous auditions were given the opportunity to perform with the orchestra. 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 were able to blossom.

With the aim of becoming a world-class orchestra, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra was re-launched as an incorporated foundation on June 1, 2005 and welcomed the world-renowned Maestro Myung-Whun Chung as its Music Director. SINCE THEN the orchestra has since made stellar development. As a result of its reorganization, full-scale auditions were held, which resulted in the replacement of 40 percent of the members.

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra embarked on a Beethoven cycle in 2006, a Brahms series in 2007 and Masterpieces Series in 2008. Top class musicians from home and abroad have participated in the these concerts including violinist Leonidas Kavakos and Frank Peter Zimmermann, cellist Jian Wang, pianist Nelson Freire and Nicholas Angelich, and soprano Kate Royal.

Focus is also placed on interaction with modern music with the Orchestra inviting Kroean composer Unsuk Chin to be the first composer in residence in Korea. Maestra Chin was awarded the Grawemeyer Award -dubbed the Nobel Prizes for musicians- in 2004, and the Arnold Schoenberg Prize in 2005. Chin has planned the Ars Nova modern music series since 2006 to introduce Korean music lovers to recently composed masterpieces.

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