Chung Myung-whun to be named honorary music director of the KBS Symphony Orchestra
Published : Jan 5, 2022 - 17:20
Updated : Jan 12, 2022 - 09:36
Conductor Chung Myung-whun (center) waves to the audience after a concert with the KBS Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 24, 2021. (KBS Symphony Orchestra)
Renowned South Korean conductor Chung Myung-whun will reportedly be appointed as honorary music director of the KBS Symphony Orchestra, according to media reports on Wednesday.

The news came days after Chung saved the orchestra’s Christmas Eve concert by leading the concert on behalf of Pietari Inkinen, the orchestra‘s music director who was unable to enter the country because of toughened self-quarantine rules. He also held the baton at concerts in December 2020 and August 2021 for the orchestra.

According to a report by Kookmin Ilbo citing unnamed sources, Chung will be given the title in January.

Chung has a long, complicated relationship with the KBS Symphony Orchestra.

In 1972, at the age of 18, Chung stood in front of the orchestra, which marked his debut in South Korea. He also took the helm of the orchestra in January 1998 as the executive conductor and music director but stepped down four months later amid a dispute with the management. It wasn’t until August 2018 that they collaborated again when Chung took the stage with pianist Garrick Ohlsson for a concert with the orchestra.

He was mentioned as a strong candidate to replace Yoel Levi as the orchestra’s music director and executive conductor, but in April last year during an interview, Chung made clear that he no longer wished to take an “executive” music director position at any orchestra because he did not want the responsibility.

Even though this would be the first time that he will take the honorary music director position in South Korea, Chung was given the title a few times from orchestras that he had previously worked with, including the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

After serving as the music director of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000 to 2015, he was named honorary music director in 2015. For the Tokyo orchestra, the maestro worked as the special artistic advisor from 2001 to the 2009/10 season and an honorary conductor laureate from the 2010/11 season to August 2016. He became the honorary music director of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016.

He also led the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (2006-2015) but stepped down from his position as the music director in 2015 after troubles with former SPO CEO Park Hyun-jung.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)