Conductor Chang Han-na to perform with mentor Maisky in S. Korea after 11 years

South Korean conductor Chang Han-na is set to reunite with renowned cellist and her most influential mentor Mischa Maisky for their first South Korean concert in 11 years later this week.

Their relationship has spanned three decades as the 40-year-old Chang began studying cello with Maisky at the age of 10. They later took the stage together as a conductor and a soloist after Chang shifted her career to conducting.

Chang entered the global classical scene at age 11 when she won both first prize and the contemporary music prize at the fifth Rostropovich International Cello Competition in Paris in 1994. She made her conducting debut in 2007.

Since 2017, she has been serving as the artistic leader and chief conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway. She has also been the principal guest conductor of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra in Germany since last year.

Although the two have performed together on European stages since last year, Chang could not hide her excitement during a press conference about performing with Maisky in her home country for the first time since 2012.

The program for the upcoming concert with Seoul-based Ditto Orchestra includes Dvorak's Cello Concerto, Op.104 and Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, as well as Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.

"As a musician, there were truly crucial first moments in my life," Chang said during a press conference in Seoul. "Mischa Maisky first opened the door to what it means to be a musician and performer, while Beethoven and Dvorak sparked an intense desire within me to become a conductor."

She added: "All of them are meaningful figures to me, and I am thrilled, excited and grateful for this opportunity."

Chang said she and Maisky had in-depth discussions on how to interpret Dvorak's concerto to strike the right balance between the orchestra and cello.

"The weight that a cellist should bear when performing Dvorak's cello concerto is substantial. The orchestra surges like a storm. How they come together, confront, compromise and resist is different. That's why it's a significant challenge and by no means an easy piece for conductors," Chang said. "Speaking of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, there is no symphony that can better express Beethoven in a concise and powerful way."

Maisky, 75, said it is a pleasure and privilege to take stage with his "one and only student," describing Chang's conducting style as "intelligent, intuitive and energetic."

"So many different things come together to make each performance unique and very touching deep in our heart, not just their minds and ears," he said. "That is, in my opinion, very rare."

The concert will begin in Jeonju on Sunday and continue in Daejeon on Tuesday, Gyeongju on Sept. 21 and Seoul from Sept. 23-24.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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