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Tokyo Philharmonic, led by Chung Myung-whun, to tour in Korea with Cho Seong-jin

March 20, 2024 - 16:40 By Park Ga-young
Maestro Chung Myung-whun and pianist Cho Seong-jin greet the audience with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Credia)

After nearly two decades, the internationally acclaimed Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra is set to return to South Korea. The much-anticipated event will feature performances by some of South Korea’s most sought-after musicians, maestro Chung Myung-whun and pianist Cho Seong-jin and more.

The tour will be a chance to see the synergy of the TPO and Chung, who holds a longstanding relationship with the orchestra. Chung has been collaborating with the orchestra since 2000 and was appointed its honorary music director in 2016, becoming the first foreign national to hold the position.

The TPO and Chung will present two distinct programs, each featuring different guest performers.

On May 7 at the Seoul Arts Center, pianist Cho Seong-jin will join forces with TPO and Chung, highlighting their longstanding collaboration.

As one of the most highly sought-after pianists in the world, Cho has had a long musical exchange with the TPO, and he also participated in Chung's inaugural concert as honorary music director in 2016.

The first encounter between Chung and Cho dates back to May 1, 2009, when Cho was just 13 years old. Chung said in March last year during a press conference that he was taken aback by Cho's artistic and musical maturity at such a young age, leading to a close collaboration between the two in the ensuing years.

The 29-year-old pianist will perform Schumann's Piano Concerto, known for its demands on the pianist's technique and musicality as well as harmony with the orchestra.

Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, "Fate."

Ticket prices range from 60,000 won ($45) to 180,000 won.

Maestro Chung Myung-whun (Credia)

Outside Seoul, the same program will also be performed in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, on May 10, and Goyang, Gyeonggi Province on May 11.

The performance on May 9 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will feature the essence of Beethoven's music. The first part of the evening will feature Beethoven's Triple Concerto with maestro Chung leading the Tokyo Philharmonic and playing the piano, collaborating with violinist Lee Je-hye and cellist Moon Tae-guk, both internationally acclaimed musicians.

The second part of the concert will feature Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, "Choral," which Chung has selected for major performances such as the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra's year-end concert, the Liberation Day commemorative concert, and the City of London Festival, and has even released live recordings through Deutsche Grammophon.

For “Choral,” soprano Hwang Su-mi, mezzo-soprano Kim Jung-mi, tenor Mario Bahg and bass-baritone Samuel Yoon take the stage as soloists with about 100 singers from Goyang Civic Choir and Anyang Civic Chorale.

Ticket prices range from 50,000 won to 220,000 won.

The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1911 in Nagoya, is Japan's oldest symphony orchestra and is one of Japan's leading orchestras alongside the NHK Symphony Orchestra. After relocating to Tokyo in 1938, it has been active in various fields such as orchestral music, opera and ballet. Based in Tokyo Opera City since 1989, the orchestra performs more than 170 times annually. It is also known as the orchestra with the largest repertoire in Japan.

In 2015, Tokyo Philharmonic and Seoul Philharmonic made a joint performance as part of the 2015 Korea-Japan diplomatic event, but the upcoming concerts mark the Japanese orchestra’s first official tour of Korea in 19 years.