Contract ends for Seoul’s maestro

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Contract ends for Seoul’s maestro

Maestro Chung Myung-whun, who has helped boost the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s international reputation to new heights over the past 10 years as its artistic director and principal conductor, left for Paris on Thursday afternoon. His departure came the day his contract with the orchestra concluded.

Chung has been mired in controversy since late 2014 over various scandals relating to overblown bureaucracy, his high salary and, more recently, a scandal involving his wife, who is alleged to have orchestrated the dispute that led orchestra’s former president Park Hyun-jung to step down over allegations that she sexually and verbally harassed her employees.

Chung finished his concert with the orchestra on Wednesday evening.

The two and a half hour concert at the Seoul Arts Center was the maestro’s final performance with the orchestra. Prior to the event, the musicians distributed letters to the audience in the lobby which stated their regret that the “essence of the scandal was that former president Park had violated employees’ human rights.”

But that essence, however, “has been blurred,” it continued, “as the victims have turned into assailants.”

Chung’s wife has been staying in Paris since the scandal broke.

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra had nine scheduled concerts with Chung starting from Jan. 9, and vested parties have urged the organization to quickly find a substitute while trying to prevent any further fallout.

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

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