Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, For the past 70 years, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) has played a central role in enriching the cultural lives of Korea's citizens. In 2005, under the leadership of Maestro Myung-Whun Chung, the orchestra was reborn, setting a new standard for orchestral music in Korea. With distinguished guest conductors, soloists and the Grawemeyer award-winning Composer-in-Residence Unsuk Chin, the SPO continues to take the initiative in shaping the Korean classical music scene.
The SPO has extended its scope to an international scale starting in 2007 with Thailand and the New York-based U.N. Headquarters for the 62nd United Nations Day Concert. In 2010, the orchestra embarked on its first overseas tour to nine cities in Italy, Germany, Czech Republic and Russia. This followed the orchestra's European festival tour in 2011 which included the world-famous Edinburgh International Festival. In 2012, the orchestra won standing ovations and wide acclaim for its North American tour, including their performance at the world renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In 2013, SPO performed a meaningful concert at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Seoul-Beijing sister cities relationship. In August 2014, the SPO toured to the Turku Music Festival, the Grafenegg Festival, the Merano Music Festival, and to the BBC Proms in Europe where the orchestra received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The influential UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, gave the orchestra's performance at the BBC Proms its highest rating of five stars, describing it as 'beautifully paced and deeply moving.'
Meanwhile, apart from traditional concert hall venues, the SPO performs a wide range of public concerts and is deeply involved in the everyday lives of Seoul citizens. Large-scale outdoor concerts such as the Neighborhood Concerts in hospitals, prisons, local community centers and other diverse places, the Children's Day Celebration Concert at the Seoul Children's Grand Park, and the Riverside Concert at the side of the Hangang River, are all greatly loved by people from all walks of life in the bustling metropolis.
Furthermore, SPO also provides customized education programs such as the Neighborhood Art School for children, Pre-concert Lecture for adult audiences, Conducting Masterclass for young conductors, Composition Masterclass for composition majors, and Baty Brass Academy for future brass players. They are all part of the orchestra's vision to expand its future audience base as well as to develop and nurture young artists on a long-term basis.
SPO also became the first Asian orchestra to sign an exclusive worldwide contract with the Deutsche Grammophon label for two CD releases annually in a total span of five years. A total of nine albums have been released up to date including Unsuk Chin's 3 Concertos and Mahler's Symphony No. 9 which were released in 2014 and Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in 2015. The Unsuk Chin’s 3 Concertos album in particular was honored by two of the world's most prestigious awards in classical music: International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) for best contemporary music recording and BBC Music Magazine Awards for winning the Premiere Category.