Maestro refrains from signing contract

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Maestro refrains from signing contract

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Maestro Chung Myung-whun said his contract with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra as the artistic director is “tentative” and said he will not renew it unless certain requirements are met. Provided by the orchestra

“Although I’m not a man of many words, I want to compliment the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and say I have no doubt it is the best orchestra in Asia,” said maestro Chung Myung-whun, the artistic director of the city-run organization, on Monday. “I have broad experience internationally, so I am not saying this casually. The orchestra members deserve this compliment.”

It’s been 10 years since the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra was established after recruiting Chung as its artistic director. Since then, he has renewed his contract every year except for this one. According to Chung, he has a “tentative” agreement with the organization for 2015 instead.

“I have not yet signed any contract yet,” said Chung on Monday during a press conference organized to announce the orchestra’s achievements for the past 10 years and its schedule for this year.

Chung added that unless certain requirements are met, including a guarantee that the orchestra will have its own concert hall as well as an increased budget, he will not sign any papers.

“I will continue to work for the orchestra this year because we already have programs lined up until December,” said Chung. “That’s a promise I made with the members and the fans, so I cannot break that.”

Chung said he hopes to receive word in the meantime that the Seoul Metropolitan Government will fulfil those two requirements so that he can renew his contract and continue working with the organization to make sure it becomes “one of the best orchestras in the world.”

“Ten years ago, people didn’t really go to the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s concerts even if they were given a free ticket,” said Chung. “Now, our concerts are always sold out.”

According to the orchestra, its number of concerts has more than doubled and attendance has increased more than five-fold compared to 10 years ago.

Concerning criticism of his high salary - an issue that Park Hyun-jung, the former orchestra president - brought up, Chung said if his decreased salary would help to develop the orchestra then he would agree for it to be lowered.

“If that’s not the case, and they just ask me to receive less because they want to pay less, I believe that is an insult,” said Chung.

Park was embroiled in controversy over alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse against employees in the orchestra’s administrative department. She resigned late last month.


BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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