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Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra visits Korea on 10-day tour

March 10, 2024 - 14:26 By Choi Si-young
A poster for the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra’s tour to Korea. (HRO)

The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, the oldest symphony orchestra in the US, is returning to South Korea for the first time since 2015 in a tour of three cities.

The HRO, comprising Harvard students and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 1808.

The 110-member ensemble led by music director and conductor Federico Cortese will perform music by Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Bernstein, making three stops across the country -- Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul on March 13, Moak Hall in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province on March 14; and Tongyeong Concert Hall in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province on March 16.

The performance will feature Tchaikovsky’s autobiographical Symphony No. 5 in E-minor, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Bernstein’s Mambo from “West Side Story,” the American composer and conductor’s reflection on Afro-Latin rhythms.

Won Hyung-joon, a South Korean-born, Juilliard School-trained violinist, will join the tour. Musicians from the Beautiful Mind Orchestra, a local ensemble set up in 2010 by the namesake charity to integrate disabled people, will join the Seoul concert Wednesday.

A view of Jinkwansa, a Buddhist temple in Seoul’s Eunpyeong-gu. (Jinkwansa)

The tour will also involve sightseeing for HRO musicians, who will travel to Jinkwansa, a Buddhist temple in Seoul’s Eunpyeong-gu, for a half-day temple stay on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, they will meet up with the Ewha Womans University Orchestra in a private get-together.

A cultural arm of the Jogye Order of Korea Buddhism, which will host the US orchestra, said the temple stay will involve “meditation, temple food and other Buddhist practices.”

“The orchestra had opted for the temple stay, among other programs offered,” said an official at the Culture Corps of Korean Buddhism.

Visits to historic sites in Seoul such as the main palace Gyeongbokgung as well as Gwangjang and Namdaemun Market will also take place, according to the US orchestra.