National Symphony Orchestra of Korea Announces Changes Related to New Name

Cap: Artistic Director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Korea David Reiland (second from left), CEO Choi Jung-sook (left) and Chun Yie-eun (first from right) attend a press conference held on Tuesday at the Seoul Arts Center. (KNSO)

From introducing forgotten female composers to moving from classical music to K-culture, the National Symphony Orchestra of Korea has unveiled plans to imprint its name on the minds of music lovers at home and abroad.

The orchestra’s artistic director, David Reiland, presented various artistic projects and initiatives to reporters on Tuesday at a press conference at the Seoul Arts Center. Reiland plans to introduce forgotten female composers, in the continuity of a project with the Orchester National de France de Metz, which Reiland has been directing as musical and artistic director since 2018.

“There are a lot of female songwriters, but we hardly listen to their music just because they have female names. I would like to give a lot of female composers a chance,” said Reiland. “I found out that there were more than 15 composers in Europe who had studied with Yun I-sang.”

The Belgian conductor, who was appointed artistic director of the KNSO in January this year, said his aim was to introduce classical music to all generations. To achieve this goal, he hopes to collaborate with various genres, and K-culture in particular.

Reiland is brainstorming various ideas for moving into genres such as K-pop and K-drama. Some of those ideas include mixing classical music with Korean literature and “live painting,” combining exhibits with music, Reiland explained.

The overhaul plan also includes a new one-year assistant conductor position and a relaunch of the composer-in-residence program which has been on hold for the past five years.

The orchestra appointed American conductor Elias Peter Brown as assistant conductor and Chun Yie-eun as composer-in-residence.

Brown won first prize in the inaugural KNSO International Conducting Competition last year.

Chun Yie-eun, whom Reiland describes as “a composer who creates creative originality in musical tradition,” will be the KNSO’s composer-in-residence for the next two years, during which she will create two new pieces.

Fostering emerging Korean composers is part of KNSO’s efforts to expand its status as the representative organization of the country’s classical music scene and to bring Korean classical music to the world stage.

The KNSO will present at least three new pieces by Korean composers every year while collaborating with world-renowned music organizations.

The orchestra, which receives 7% of its annual budget from the Ministry of Culture, has also introduced measures to boost its operations.

Choi Jung-sook, the CEO of KNSO, announced a list of new initiatives, including adding more musicians to the orchestra and releasing more recordings.

The orchestra, which currently has 74 members, will add more musicians over the next three years.

“The budget issue is very important and we are currently in talks with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Economy and Finance to secure the necessary budget,” Choi said. “We also plan to diversify budget sources by expanding our sponsorship membership base in addition to corporate sponsorships,” she added.

In March, the KNSO, formerly known as the Korean Symphony Orchestra, officially added “National” to its name.

The orchestra was founded in 1985. Two years later, the orchestra was designated as the internal orchestra of the National Theater and began performing with the National Ballet of Korea and the National Opera of Korea. Along with the two national art groups, the orchestra moved to the Seoul Arts Center in 2000, as part of the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revitalize the cultural complex in southern Seoul.


By Park Ga-young (

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