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Acclaimed soloists to perform with KBS Symphony Orchestra next year

Successfully wrapping up his first year, Pietari Inkinen unveils 2023 lineup

Dec. 20, 2022 - 20:16 By Hwang Dong-hee
(Clockwise from top) Pianist Sunwoo Ye-kwon, violinist Midori, cellist Han Jae-min and violinist Gidon Kremer (Courtesy of Kim Young-chul, Kim Shin-Joong, KBS Symphony Orchestra)

KBS Symphony Orchestra and music director Pietari Inkinen unveiled a new program for the 2023 season with a list full of acclaimed soloists.

The piano is at the forefront with half of the 12 regular concerts in the next season featuring internationally renowned pianists, including Van Cliburn Piano Competition-winning pianist Sunwoo Ye-kwon, Pascal Roge, Alexei Volodin and Queen Elisabeth Competition-winning Anna Vinnitskaya, Alice Sara Ott and Fazil Say.

Violinist virtuoso Gidon Kremer, Japanese-born American violinist Midori, who made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11, and 16-year-old cellist Han Jae-min are also on the list. Han became the youngest winner of the George Enescu International Competition last year.

Finnish conductor Inkinen will lead five of the 12 regular season concerts.

“The story behind the selection (for the repertoire) is the diversity and variety, and a little bit of surprise,” Inkinen said during a press conference held Tuesday.

Music director Pietari Inkinen (center) speaks at a press conference Tuesday. (KBS Symphony Orchestra)

KBS Symphony Orchestra will kick off the 2023 season on Jan. 28, playing Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. As he began 2022 with Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, the director said he chose another Mahler piece for “continuity.” Pianist Sunwoo will join the orchestra in the performance of Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor.

In April, the orchestra will perform Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" and Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique," Op. 14. French pianist Roge will perform Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major.

The 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff's birth will be feted in May with a performance of Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 in E minor. Russian pianist Vinnitskaya will perform Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," Op. 43.

In June, Kremer will perform Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D minor with the orchestra led by guest conductor Yoel Levi. In September, cellist Han will play Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major with conductor Chung Myung-whun, conductor laureate at the KBS Symphony Orchestra. Midori will perform Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with guest conductor Mario Venzago in November.

The season will end with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, as usual. The Beethoven piece will be preceded by a performance of Richard Strauss’ "Metamorphosen."

Music director Pietari Inkinen (center) and the KBS Symphony Orchestra at a previous concert in 2022 (KBS Symphony Orchestra)

October's concert includes a special highlight -- the Korean premiere of W. Walton’s Symphony No. 1, a rarely performed piece anywhere in the world.

“In a way, it is symbolically to bring some of my past and previous history to the KBS orchestra. Because this was my breakthrough symphony internationally,” Inkinen said.

Looking back on his first year, one of the most daring choices he made was performing Sibelius’ "Kullervo," Op. 7, the first time it was performed in Korea, said Inkinen.

“This was all balancing on the knife, but I’m thrilled that we managed to pull it off well and we had wonderful responses from the audiences.”