Chung Myung-whun Resigns from Seoul Philharmonic Top Job

      December 30, 2015 14:05

      Chung Myung-whun

      The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra's music director Chung Myung-whun resigned Tuesday after the orchestra's board and the Seoul city government postpone their decision whether to renew his contract.

      Chung had led the Seoul Philharmonic in sometimes rocky circumstances sine 2006.

      On Tuesday he met with the orchestra's head to tell him of his decision and also sent a message to members.

      "It is with great sadness that I write this letter of departure from the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of my 10th year as music director," Chung wrote. "I regret that I have to leave the job, but I could not stand to watch what we have achieved for the last 10 years disgraced by a person's lies."

      Chung also canceled all his scheduled concerts with the Seoul Philharmonic next year, saying "if there is one thing more important than music, that is humanity. Unless [the orchestra] recovers its humanity, I cannot continue to work here."

      Trouble at the orchestra started when some staff accused former president Park Hyun-jung of verbal abuse and gender discrimination in December 2014. Chung sided with those staff and clashed with Park.

      Park denied all claims and quit the orchestra, but accused Chung of being behind a campaign to get her out and embezzling orchestra funds for his personal use. More recently, Chung's wife was charged with defaming Park.

      Since Chung joined the Seoul Philharmonic in 2005, he has been credited with significantly raising its status. The proportion of paying audiences surged from 38.9 percent to 92.8 percent over the last 10 years since his appointment.

      The orchestra also made its debut at the BBC Proms last year, one of the world's top classical music extravaganzas founded in 1895. In 2011 it signed a recording contract with the renowned classical music label Deutsche Grammophon. 

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