Korea’s KBS Symphony musicians protest conductor rehiring, working conditions

Posted on: October 25, 2011

Monday (10/24) on the Los Angeles Times blog World Now, John M. Glionna reports from Seoul, Korea, “There’s a musical mutiny playing out in this city’s hallowed concert hall, a discordant note not usually heard from the nation’s premier symphony orchestra. Musicians in crucial chairs of the KBS Symphony Orchestra have either walked out or been dismissed, taking their instruments with them. Others are donning protest T-shirts and offering subpar work during practices and even some performances. Such sourness stems not only from hard financial times and a trend toward declining salaries but the reappointment of an unpopular American-trained conductor. Many veteran musicians with the 55-year-old symphony orchestra are irate about controversial conductor Hahm Shinik, who many say can’t tell an oboe from a French horn. … The growing strife, long kept behind the curtain, spilled over into a public performance on Friday, when the orchestra could barely finish its program at the Seoul Arts Center. At an earlier rehearsal, about 70 members wore matching T-shirts carrying slogans against the 54-year-old Hahm, a Korean American Yale music professor, for what they called his unfair disciplinary measures against members of the orchestra. … Hahm, in the meantime, remains steadfast. ‘There’s can’t be an orchestra that disregards the conductor’s instructions,’ he said.”

Posted October 25, 2011