Maestro Chung Myung-whun was met with howling cheers, applause and standing ovations from his local audience in the conductor’s final concert with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra on Wednesday night.
The concert comes just one day after Chung submitted his official resignation as music director, citing the orchestra’s ongoing legal dispute regarding human rights violations by its former head as the reason for his departure after a decade at its helm.
Maestro Chung Myung-whun
Prior to the concert, the members of the audience were handed out a letter of appeal on behalf of the members of the SPO, in which they cemented their support for conductor Chung, referring to him as one of the biggest victims organizations of the row.
“The violator of our human rights is our former CEO Park Hyun-jung, and the victims are the SPO staff members, the orchestra’s musicians and conductor Chung Myung-whun,” said the orchestra’s letter of appeal to the concert audience.
“This is issue is not simply a personal issue, this is a matter that has violently shaken Korea’s finest arts community,” it added.
Conductor Chung took his place at the podium at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall in the SPO’s sold-out year-end performance, and without saying a word, the maestro simply gave his welcoming bow and went straight into the orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Op. 125 “Choral.”
Following the orchestra’s final movement, the maestro received a resounding standing ovation and continuous heartfelt applause from the audience as he silently bade farewell and went around shaking hands with all the members of his orchestra.
According to SPO representatives, around 85 staff and members of the orchestra presented Chung with flowers and mockup dove gifts as symbols of freedom and equality.
Despite previously promising he would fully commit to all of the orchestra’s scheduled concerts next season, with or without a contract renewal, Chung canceled all of his appearances with the SPO following his resignation on Tuesday, leaving the future fate of the orchestra still hanging in the balance.
The SPO’s 2016 season opener, which is scheduled for Jan. 9 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, will be held as scheduled with a replacement conductor.
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org