Foreign Orchestras Cancel Korean Tours
By Lee Hyo-won
Amid the financial downturn, several big overseas orchestras scheduled to perform in South Korea this year have cancelled.
The Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, which was to feature twice in April under the baton of maestro Chung Myung-whun, and the Dmitiri Kitajenko-led Vienna Symphony's two December concerts were called off. Both orchestras withdrew plans to tour other Asian countries such as China and Japan.
The Cincinnati Symphony has limited its Asian tour to Japan, calling off its performance in Taiwan, as well as its Korean debut with flutist Choi Na-kyung slated for October. Facing financial troubles, the American ensemble was forced to cut 20 percent from salaries for orchestra members, said Vincero, the local concert organizer.
Meanwhile, domestic sponsors called it quits for the Pittsburgh Symphony's May concert. As various Asian tours are being called off, European and North American orchestras and music management agencies are also suffering.
Until recently, orchestra performances were the cream of the crop among classical concerts here, as they often attracted generous corporate sponsorship and high ticket sales. But such concerts are now a mounting concern for organizers, as unfavorable exchange rates raise guarantees and airfare, while corporate sponsorship and profits are dwindling. Last fall, in spite of successful ticket sales and positive reviews, organizers of the La Scala Opera Theater Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts suffered a deficit due to the weak won.
Meanwhile, tours by the Northern Sinfonia, led by Thomas Zehetmair featuring pianist Lim Dong-hyek as soloist on March 29, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, with violinist Kwun Hyuk-joo on April 16, remain intact. Concertgoers can also look forward to performances by domestic troupes such as the Seoul Philharmonic, KBS Symphony and Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.