The South Korean conductor Shiyeon Sung is a real trailblazer of her profession. She is the first female conductor out of South Korea to make the leap to the podium of internationally renowned orchestras, including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, the Bamberg and the Nuremberg Symphony.
When she was appointed assistant conductor at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2007, her reputation as one of the most exciting emerging talents on the international music circuit was already secure: shortly before, Shiyeon Sung had won the International Conductors’ Competition Sir Georg Solti and the Gustav Mahler Conductors’ Competition in Bamberg. During her three-year tenure in Boston, she began a close collaboration with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted their season-opening concert in 2007. In 2009, the orchestra established an associate conductor’s position especially for her, which she held until 2013.
The list of orchestras that Shiyeon Sung has worked with since then is remarkable. It includes renowned European orchestras such as the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, and Bamberg Symphony, as well as the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which she led in a spectacular debut concert with Martha Argerich at the Tongyeong International Music Festival. In addition, she appeared as guest conductor at the Teatro Colón and the Stockholm Opera.
She was chief conductor of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra from 2014 until the end of 2017, during which time she led the orchestra to international success. Following a performance in 2015 at the Philharmonie Berlin, in 2017 Shiyeon Sung and her orchestra were the first Asian orchestra to be invited for a guest appearance at the Musikfest Berlin, the renowned international orchestra festival. Their recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 for Decca documents Shiyeon Sung’s outstanding work with the group of predominantly young orchestral musicians, for which she was awarded the Musical Performance Prize 2017 from the Daewon Cultural Foundation. After her departure from Gyeonggi, Shiyeon Sung relocated to Berlin where she now resides, but remains a popular guest in her home country and regularly returns to the Korea National Opera and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her debuts with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Oviedo Filármonia, and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra will be special highlights of the 2020/21 season, during which she will also return to the Seattle Symphony and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Born in Pusan, South Korea, Shiyeon Sung won various prizes as a pianist in youth competitions. From 2001 to 2006, she studied orchestral conducting with Rolf Reuter at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin and continued her education with advanced conducting studies with Jorma Panula at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
Photo Credit: Yongbin Park