Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra appoints new artistic team

After a troubled year of legal disputes with Myung-Whun Chung, and some testing fallouts, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra finally has some good news.

The Korean orchestra has appointed Thierry Fischer as principal guest conductor and Markus Stenz as conductor-in-residence. Beginning in the Jan 2017 season for an initial three-year contract, between them they will conduct at least 25 per cent of SPO’s 40 annual subscription concerts.

Both were selected via a seven-strong committee comprising SPO’s CEO and players, musicians from outside the orchestra, a music critic, a conductor and a music manager.

No stranger to Asia, Swiss conductor Fischer has served both as chief conductor and honorary guest conductor of Japan’s Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, he is currently music director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra in the US – a post that will run concurrently with his SPO role.

In his first SPO season he will conduct a wide range of repertoire including works by Haydn, Brahms, Berlioz, Mahler, Shostakovich, Ravel, Berg, Dutilleux and a newly commissioned work by Anders Hillborg, collaborating with soloists including Truls Mørk, Bertrand Chamayou and Viviane Hagner. He will also direct the season’s closing concert – a performance of Bruckner’s Te Deum and of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony involving three major Korean choirs.

Said Fischer: ‘Under Maestro Chung, the SPO gained recognition nationally and internationally as a first-class orchestra, and it is our aim to further develop this strong identity. For that we will need the support of the orchestra’s faithful audience, but will also seek to attract new first-timers to share in our adventure. I hope the Seoul public will be as excited as I am by our first season’s programmes and the star artists we have invited from Korea and across the globe.’

Markus Stenz © Hans van der Woerd
Markus Stenz © Hans van der Woerd

German conductor Markus Stenz is best-known for his 11-year tenure as principal conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra, Cologne. His recent recording of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder won the 2016 Gramophone Award for Choral Music. In 2017 he will conduct music by Berlioz, Liszt, Schumann, and Bruckner, collaborating with pianist Deszö Ranki and cellist Alban Gerhardt.