Seoul Phil looks overseas for fresh talent and ideas : After controversy with Chung Myung-whun, a bold, new direction

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Seoul Phil looks overseas for fresh talent and ideas : After controversy with Chung Myung-whun, a bold, new direction


Markus Stenz, left, a German conductor, has been appointed as the Conductor-in-Residence of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra while Thierry Fischer, current music director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, has been appointed as the Principal Guest Conductor. The two conductors will begin working with the orchestra next January under three-year contracts. [SEOUL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA]

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra announced Thursday that it has appointed two conductors from overseas as principal guest conductor and conductor-in-residence, in an attempt to newly organize the operating system of the city-run orchestra that’s been running without a principal conductor this year. Chung Myung-whun, the orchestra’s former principal conductor and artistic director refused to further his contract with the orchestra following controversies and accusations surrounding him. Chung left the orchestra on Dec. 31 of last year.

Thierry Fischer, a Swiss conductor who is currently a music director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra in the U.S., has been appointed as the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, while Markus Stenz, a German conductor who is best known for his 11-year tenure as principal conductor of the Gurzenich Orchestra, Cologne, has been appointed as the Conductor-in-Residence. Both conductors’ terms start next January and the contracts each run for three years.

“We are thrilled that the two first-class conductors of international stature have accepted the invitation to work closely with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. There is no doubt that both will inspire all of us at the orchestra to ever greater achievements. We truly look forward to a new chapter of ambitious music-making and creative programming,” said Choe Heung-shik, CEO of the orchestra.

Fischer has served both as Chief Conductor and Honorary Guest Conductor of Japan’s Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. In his first season in Seoul, the orchestra said he will be conducting a wide range of repertoire. He is not new to the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra as he’s conducted two modern music programs as a part of the orchestra’s Ars Nova series in the past.

“During his 10-year tenure Maestro Chung built the orchestra up into one of the top orchestras in the world, and I will do my best to uphold his incredible legacy, whilst exploring new directions together with Seoul Philharmonic members, staff and Composer-in-Residence Unsuk Chin,” said Fischer.

Stenz, who also performed Mahler with the orchestra, said that he is thrilled to work closely with the orchestra.

“When I performed Mahler, I felt such openness from the orchestra for being flexible and living the music with a full heart and mind,” he said. “I’m looking forward to exploring the orchestra’s refinement and tailoring it to the various eras of music.”

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