Music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra is a Dutch conductor

Jaap van Zweden, a Dutch conductor, has been named as the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s new music director.

The 61-year-old Dutch conductor will start his five-year term in January 2024, the orchestra said on Sunday.

Since the present music director Osmo Vanska opted not to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the year, the search for a replacement started earlier this year. 2020 saw the appointment of Vanska.

An SPO representative informed The Korea Herald that the orchestra will look for guest conductors for its performances in 2023.

Music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra is a Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden (Courtesy of Brad Trent)
Conductor Jaap van Zweden (Courtesy of Brad Trent)

Van Zweden has been the music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since 2012 and currently holds the position of music director of the New York Philharmonic, a position he assumed in 2018.

Additionally, he has served as a guest conductor for a number of the world’s top orchestras, including the Orchestre de Paris, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and others.

Van Zweden, an Amsterdam native, led the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 17 years as the orchestra’s concertmaster at the age of 19.

He also held positions as music director for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, head conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic (2005–2013), and the Royal Flanders Orchestra (2008–2011). (2008-2018).

The conductor maintained his global influence across several continents after winning the 2020 Concertgebouw Prize and guiding the Hong Kong Philharmonic to be crowned Gramophone’s 2019 Orchestra of the Year.

With K-pop, movies, and drama, South Korea has captured the attention of the world and set off a new cultural tidal wave. I think the SPO can establish itself as a world-class orchestra with the hiring of a top conductor as its new music director, as Korea is attracting attention from around the world as the home of many talented classical musicians,” its CEO Sohn Eun-Kyung said in a press release on Sunday.

The Finnish conductor Vanska will offer his final concerts as the SPO’s music director on December 15 and 16, an SPO representative told The Korea Herald. He will command the orchestra as a guest conductor from January through March of 2023 to conclude its Sibelius cycle.

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