Philharmonia assembles in Seoul for rehearsals and concerts

Banner at the Seoul Plaza Hotel, home of the Philharmonia during its stay in Korea
Banner hailing the Philharmonia at the Seoul Plaza Hotel, the orchestra’s home during its stay in Korea

Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale converged on Seoul, Korea, on July 15 and 16 in preparation for the orchestra’s historic four-concert tour of Korea and China. The largest group of around 50 musicians and staff left New Haven for New York’s JFK airport, and later departed for Seoul by way of Shanghai in the small hours of the morning on Tuesday. Others flew to JFK from Boston, Burlington, Washington D.C., and Rochester to connect with the group. The balance of the orchestra flew in from Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tuscon, Vancouver, Bangkok, Paris, Kiev, Madrid, Nanjing, and other Asian cities to meet the orchestra in Seoul.

Shinik Hahm leads the orchestras first rehearsal at the Kon Kuk University Convention Center.
Shinik Hahm leads the orchestra’s first rehearsal at the Kon Kuk University’s Millennium Hall. Below, Kon Kuk music students view the rehearsal from a gallery.

The orchestra’s concerts in Seoul and Beijing are already virtually sold out, say local concert promoters, and the chorus section of the Seoul Arts Center behind the orchestra will be opened up to accommodate the demand for tickets.

On Thursday the orchestra went to work rehearsing programs for Sunday’s  Seoul Arts Center concert and for three concerts to take place the following week in Beijing and Shanghai. Rehearsals are taking place at Kon Kuk University, the Alma Mater of Shinik Hahm, the Philharmonia’s music director. The Seoul program include’s Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” Soloist in the Beethoven Concerto will be YSM student and Seoul native Sun-Mi Chang.

The Beijing concerts will be part of the Musicathlon that began in that city on July 9 as a pre-Olympic cultural event, organized by the Yale School of Music and Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music. On July 22, the orchestra plays in the Forbidden City Concert Hall with cellist Jian Wang, the renowned cellist from Shanghai who is a graduate of the Yale School of Music. The final Musicathlon concert brings together the Yale Philharrmonia, the orchestra and chorus of the Central Conservatory, and Yale alumni singers Mary Phillips and Heather Buck under CCM’s Yongyan Hu for Mahler’s Second Symphony at the National Center for the Performing Arts. The tour concludes with the orchestra, once again joined by Jian Wang, in concert in Shanghai.

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