Korean composer honored by Berlin Phil

Renowned orchestra issues ‘Unsuk Chin edition’ comprising her major works


Korean composer Unsuk Chin still finds it unbelievable that the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has published the recordings of her music.

“I still can’t believe it even though I have the CDs in my own hands, for which I have worked (with the orchestra) for years,” Chin recently told Yonhap News Agency via phone.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has released the “Unsuk Chin edition,” which contains her six solo and orchestral works performed with conductors Chung Myung-whun, Daniel Harding, Sakari Oramo and Simon Rattle.

“I think it is only the second time the ensemble has recorded the works by a living composer, after the American composer John Adams,” the 62-year-old said. “It is so meaningful to me, and I am so happy.”

“The album, however, did not come out overnight … We had worked together for a long time, and prepared for it ever since we agreed on an album back in 2015.”

She recalled the year 1984 when she got a chance to watch the orchestra’s performance backstage in Seoul.

“I had never imagined that the orchestra would one day perform my music,” she said.

Calling her “one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary music,” the orchestra said her works open up “new perspectives,” with “labyrinths of innovative sounds and complex structures,” followed by “moments of otherworldly beauty.”

“Her astounding ingenuity, which traverses different cultural spheres, gives each work an individual character. In the process, the composer explores the limits of playing technique,” it said, adding all this makes the encounter with Chin’s music a “continuous adventure” and “an exciting voyage of discovery which our edition would like to take you on.”

Born in Seoul in 1961, Chin moved to Germany in 1985 to study contemporary classical music at the University of Music and Theatre Hamburg. She won the Grawemeyer Award for her Violin Concerto in 2004, received the Arnold Schonberg Prize in 2005 and the Music Composition Prize of the Prince Pierre Foundation for Gougalon in 2010.

In 2017, she was awarded the 20th Wihuri Sibelius Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious classical music prizes, becoming the first Asian composer to receive the esteemed Finnish award.

It is only the second time the ensemble has recorded the works by a living composer, after the American

composer John Adams.






The Korea Times Co.