The Korea Herald


Cellist-conductor Chang continues sharing music through orchestra

By Korea Herald

Published : Aug. 7, 2013 - 20:24

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Now dedicating the majority of her time to conducting, cellist and conductor Chang Han-na is one of the brightest conducting talents of her generation as she takes up the roles of music director of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.

Both appointments immediately followed her debut appearances with the orchestras. QPO is one of only two professional orchestras in the Gulf region and TSO is a Norwegian professional orchestra that performs up to 100 concerts annually. Chang will be the first woman to lead an orchestra in the Arab region.

“The appointment followed my first collaboration with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in June 2012. I was told that the members recommended me for the position,” said Chang during a press conference held Tuesday at the Westin Chosun Seoul in downtown Seoul.

To numerous questions related to her conducting activities, Chang responded with a hearty laugh.

“I am only 30 this year. As a young conductor, I don’t really have a special method, but I believe in sincerity,” said Chang. 
Cellist and conductor Chang Han-na speaks to the press at the Westin Chosun Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News) Cellist and conductor Chang Han-na speaks to the press at the Westin Chosun Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)

“When I conduct with my whole heart, the orchestra feels my sincerity and they also participate with total sincerity. Then we can bring the best performance to the audience.”

Before she officially assumes the post of music director in Qatar in September, Chang is making a stop in Korea to host 2013 Chang Han-na’s Absolute Classic V, an annual musical event held in Seongnam, south of Seoul, starting Aug. 17.

In 2009, Chang founded the annual Absolute Classic Festival in Korea, where she serves as the artistic director. With a motto of “Music changes the world,” the orchestra presents diverse programs every summer. Under her leadership, the Festival Orchestra has gained a reputation for fresh interpretation and passionate performances.

The Festival Orchestra will hold three separate concerts for this fifth annual musical event, on Aug. 17, 24 and 31 at Seongnam Arts Center and Central Park in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

This year, under the slogan “Orchestra ― The great living instrument,” Chang focuses on the fundamental aspects of an orchestra through Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.”

“There will be no soloists this time. The fifth Absolute Classic concert is themed around the orchestra,” Chang said. Throughout the interview Chang stressed that the spotlight should be on the orchestra, not on her.

Chang added, “The reason the Absolute Classic stands where it does today is the passion and efforts of the members who have been practicing eight to 10 hours every day for a month.”

In addition to the performances, the young conductor provides various programs such as commentary and discussion sessions throughout the festival. Chang will be sharing her musical world at the program “Absolute Day” on Aug. 15. She will also hold a “pre-concert talk” before each concert to share the stories behind the repertoires she selected for the concert to help the audiences better understand the performance.

Chang first gained international recognition for her precocious musical talent at age 11 with her surprise winning of both first prize and the Contemporary Music Prize at the fifth Rostropovich International Cello Competition in 1994 after playing the instrument for only five years.

Tickets for the Aug. 31 concert are free while the others range in price from 10,000 won to 50,000 won. For inquiries about tickets, call (031) 783-8000 or 1544-8117 or visit for other general questions.

By Suh Hye-rim (