The Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, which is the group that Korean music fans have turned to for fresh concerts and repertory since it was founded in 1988, recruited Professor Lim Hun Joung of Seoul National University as senior conductor in 1989, the orchestra’s second year, with the aim of developing into Korea’s leading orchestra based on a high level of performance skills and wide range of repertoire.
The fame of the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra has been spreading since the 2nd Symphony Festival in 1990. At the time, the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra surprised audiences and the music industry with a performance that well exceeded expectations. The orchestra followed this up with impressive performances of 20th century works by Schoenberg and Bartok, along with innovative programming that included the complete series of Brahms and Beethoven Symphonies, raising the bar for Korean concert orchestras. In addition, the orchestra was invited to represent Korea at the 1st ‘Asia Orchestra Week 2002’ in Japan in September 2002. Japanese music fans and media were so enthralled by the seamless and well-controlled tempos that everyone was on their toes throughout the concert. One Japanese maestro commented that the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra had given the best performance of the ‘Fantastique Symphony’ he had ever heard, placing the orchestra in the ranks of world-class orchestras. In 2006, the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra visited Japan once again under the invitation of the Kawasaki Prefecture, making a deep impression on the audiences that filled the Kawasaki Concert hall.
The Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra is particularly renowned for its performances of the entire series of Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies. The success of this series, which took place from 1999 to 2003, was a Korean first, and far exceeded expectations. It is considered to be a monumental achievement in the history of Korean concert music, perfectly recreating the orchestral world of Gustav Mahler. The performance of the entire series of Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies by the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra created an opportunity for the launch of Gustav Mahler expert clubs, and brought about a Gustav Mahler fever, changing the domain of the domestic music industry by bringing about a substantial change in the repertoire of domestic symphony orchestras. Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra’s endless efforts and outstanding achievements have gained overwhelming support from domestic art experts, resulting in the orchestra becoming the first music organization to be awarded a ‘Hoam Prize’ in 2005, which is considered the ‘Nobel Prize of Korea.’ Taking this as an opportunity, it confirmed its unchanging status as the top orchestra of the country. The Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra has been re-mounting its series of Gustav Mahler Symphonies, under the title of ‘Gustav Mahler in Bucheon’ since 2005. This great march will proceed each year until the opening of the Bucheon Music Hall.
The challenges of the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra continue in 2009. The Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra prepared a multi-colored commemorative concert in 2008, to mark the 20th anniversary of its foundation. It began the 'Anton Bruckner Symphony’ marathon in November 2007, which is projected to continue until 2009. At the commemorative concert for its 20th anniversary in 2008, the orchestra successfully performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which can be said to be the music that made the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra what it is today. Also in 2009, the orchestra is planning to present Symphony No. 4 by Brahms, at a commemorative concert for the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of senior conductor Lim Hun Joung, to carry on its tradition of refined musical expression.
In 2009, the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra will spare no effort to give classical music lovers top-quality performances, through consistently fresh repertory and innovative programming. Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra’s musical challenges will continue, with Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies, Anton Bruckner’s Symphonies, the Symphonic Poems of Liszt and Strauss, and significant works by Schumann, Mozart, and Brahms.