A Thai-born conductor debuts in SeoulCritically acclaimed conductor Bundit Ungrangsee, 33, will conduct the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra for a series of concerts in Seoul, Daegu and Jeonju.
The concerts will also feature pianist Denis Matsuev, a 29-year-old Russian who won the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, as well as the International Piano Competition in Paris that year.
Along with Xian Zhang, a 30-year-old Chinese woman, Mr. Ungrangsee, a Thai, won the inaugural Maazel/Vilar Conductors’ Competition at Carnegie Hall in New York in September 2002.
The jury included violinist Chung Kyung-wha, New York Philharmonic concertmaster and solo violinist Glenn Dicterow, Tokyo Philharmonic conductor Yoichiro Omachi, composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, cellist Janos Starker and New York Philharmonic conductor Lorin Maazel.
Mr. Ungrangsee has served as “cover” conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and stepped in for Mr. Maazel to conduct two concerts in Spain with the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic when Mr. Maazel was recuperating from cataract surgery.
Although Mr. Ungrangsee conducted the Seoul Philharmonic in a rehearsal in 2003, this will be his first official appearance in Korea.
The orchestra’s concertmaster, Shin Sang-jun, said he possesses “precise conducting techniques and a warm human spirit.”
Mr. Ungrangsee was born in Bangkok and studied classical guitar. He said he decided to become a conductor when he was 11 years old in 1989, as he watched Zubin Mehta conduct the New York Philharmonic.
He studied conducting and composition at Wollongong University in Thailand and later received a master’s degree in conducting from the University of Michigan. Mr. Ungrangsee has worked as a staff conductor for several American symphonies, including in Oregon, Utah and Charleston, South Carolina.
Mr. Ungrangsee married the daughter of David DePreist, the former musical director of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. He now lives in Munich, in an effort to promote his career in Europe.
Although he admires several conductors, Mr. Ungrangsee said Jorma Panula influenced him the most. He studied under Mr. Panula for four years in Helsinki, Finland, and said the conductor “taught me that conducting means helping the orchestra without interrupting it.”
Pianist Denis Matsuev has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as well as the Salle Gavot in Paris, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, the Metropolitan Tokyo Opera City and the Musikhalle in Hamburg, Germany.
The program for the Korean concerts includes Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” for Orchestra in A major, Op. 96; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64; Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” and Liszt’s “Totentanz.”
by Lee Jang-jik, Limb Jae-un
Concerts will be held at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul today, the Daegu Cultural Center for Students on Tuesday and the Sori Arts Center of North Jeolla province on Wednesday. For more information, call (02) 399-1742.