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South Korean orchestra faces mutiny by musicians

October 24, 2011 |  7:28 pm


Times correspondent John Glionna reports from Seoul that the KBS Symphony Orchestra -- the most prominent orchestra in South Korea -- is in a state of disarray, with musicians mutinying over an unpopular conductor.

Glionna writes that musicians in crucial chairs of the 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."

The heart of the conflict seems to be conductor Hahm Shinik, "who many say can't tell an oboe from a French horn." But the orchestra also faces tough financial conditions and a trend toward declining salaries. (Hahm is a Korean American conductor who has taught at Yale.)

The orchestra's difficulties come at a time when a number of classical groups in the U.S. are facing labor and financial problems of their own. Among the groups that are making headlines for their internal trouble are the Detroit Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York City Opera and the Louisville Orchestra.

Read the full story on the problems at South Korea's KBS Symphony Orchestra.


Detroit Symphony musicians officially vote to end strike, accept steep pay cuts

Classical music groups sound familiar note of financial despair

-- David Ng

Photo: Sandor Ujvari / EPA