Koreans well represented in Philadelphia Orchestra

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Koreans well represented in Philadelphia Orchestra

When the Philadelphia Orchestra first performed in Korea, they were welcomed with something close to reverence. The who’s who of the country flocked to listen to the majestic sound created by one of the big five American orchestras that uses million-dollar instruments like a Stradivarius or a Guarnieri.
Today, a Korean invasion can be found in the front row of the orchestra. Korean American David Kim is the concertmaster. Juliette Kang, a Korean Canadian, is first associate concertmaster and Chang Choong-jin is the principal viola.
Chang was the first to join the orchestra in 1994. At the time, he was an associate principal. Two years ago, he passed a principal audition and moved one row forward to the principal chair.
“Since I knew how famous the orchestra was, I was really nervous,” Chang said. “It’s amazing to see how the orchestra today has so many young artists from not just Korea but East Asia.”
To join the Phildelphia Orchestra, Chang had to turn down a principal’s position offer from the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Chang moved to the United States when he was in middle school.
In 1999, David Kim made history when he became the first concertmaster of the orchestra who was of Korean descent.
Kim was appointed by the German conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch and that has paved the way for more musicians of Korean descent to dream of joining world-renowned orchestras.
Kim was born in the United States, but in 1996 he went to Korea to teach in the music department at Yonsei University in Seoul for six months.
Juliette Kang joined the orchestra in 2006. Kang entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at the age of 10. From 2003 to 2005 she served as assistant concertmaster for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
In 1994 Kang was named by the New York Times Sunday Magazine as one of 30 people under 30 “most likely to change the culture over the next 30 years.”
Philadelphia Orchestra music director Christoph Eschenbach has often asked Kang and Chang to perform as soloists with the orchestra. At their upcoming concert at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul on May 30 and 31, Kang and Chang will collaborate with the orchestra.
The other violinists of Korean descent playing for the orchestra are Daniel Han, Anna Marie Ahn Petersen and Marvin Moon.


By Kim Ho-joung JoongAng Ilbo [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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