Seoul Phil praised as `world-class’ in Europe
By Lee Hyo-won
The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra has returned, heads held high with confidence, from its European tour _ ``the success far exceeded our expectations,'' CEO Kim Joo-ho told reporters in Seoul, Friday.
The orchestra performed in nine cities across Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and Russia from May 29 to June 11 under the baton of its music director Maestro Chung Myung-whun, receiving praise as a ``world-class orchestra" as well as securing future international concert engagements.
Each night the ensemble performed to large audiences with at least 90 percent seat occupation rates _ with the exception of a couple of cities with slow economies _ said the Seoul Philharmonic. Though Korean ensembles often perform overseas, it is the first time that one gave an extensive tour in Europe where it had to compete at the box office alongside prominent local draws.
The German press in particular praised the orchestra's performance at the prestigious Berlin Konzerthaus. Among four dailies that reviewed the evening, Berliner Morgenpost said the orchestra ``leapt over expectations. What we heard was clearly a world-class orchestra performance.''
Meanwhile, the Italians also gave positive feedback, with the Giornale di Brescia saying ``Chung Myung-whun conducted with authority and composure and precise, concentrated gestures of the highest degree.'' It also reported that the Seoul Philharmonic performed Rossini's ``William Tell'' overture as an encore to the audience's long ovation.
``Among the four other `Eastern' orchestras, the most outstanding proved to be South Korea's Seoul Philharmonic, led by world-renowned pianist and conductor Chung Myung-whun… Chung's return (to the festival) with the Seoul orchestra gave further confirmation of his status as one of the world's top-ranking conductors.,'' The Moscow Times wrote of the Seoul Philharmonic's performance at the Moscow Festival of the World's Symphony Orchestras. Chung previously took part of the event with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the performance was attended by such prominent figures as Maestro Valery Gergiev.
Moreover, Martin Campbell-White, co-head of world-renowned management company Askonas Holt, attended the Prague leg of the tour. Askonas Holt has negotiated an agreement to pursue future international tours, said the Seoul Philharmonic.
Next year the orchestra has been invited to take part in the Edinburgh Festival in the United Kingdom and the Robeco Summer Festival in the Netherlands and will tour in Japan. In 2012 it will give concerts in major U.S. cities including New York and Washington as well as in East and South Asian countries. The following year it plans to travel to Europe to promote an album release.