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The Austin Symphony Orchestra Executive Committee announced today that Conductor Sung Kwak is resigning his position as Music Director of the ASO effective at the end of the 95-96 season to pursue his increasing overseas guest appearances. As Conductor Laureate, he will conduct 4 subscription concert pairs during the ASO’s 1996-97 season.

Hailed as "a supreme conductor with a special talent" by the eminent Austrian maestro Hans Swarowsky, Sung Kwak has established an international reputation as one of today’s leading podium personalities with appearances on four continents. His recently released CD of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite has met with critical acclaim. Recorded with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Russian press says of Kwak, "He conducts Tchaikovsky like a Russian." His second CD, selections recorded with the Austin Symphony, is due for release early in 1996.

Kwak has served as music director of the Austin Symphony since 1982 and has led them to the front rank of American regional orchestras. The ASO, under Kwak’s baton, performed the Franck Symphony in D minor last month. "His tempos were exquisite! He conducted a magnificent program!" commented Harold C. Schonberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and music critic of the New York Times from 1950-1980, who attended the performance.

Critical reviews from Hong Kong to Alabama have referred to Kwak as "miraculous," a sentiment shared by Koreans around the world who witnessed Kwak’s historic 1991 concert in Pyoungyoung, North Korea, a plea for peace and reunification between North and South Korea. With frequent concerts in Seoul, Kwak serves as artistic diplomat to South Korea and looks forward to playing an active part in the educational and commercial growth of the Korean community of Austin.

As Conductor of the New York’s Eglevsky Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet in New York City Center, Kwak collaborated with Igor Stravinsky, Leonide Massine and Aaron Copland. He brings this tradition to his performances with Ballet Austin.

Sung Kwak has appeared to great acclaim as guest conductor with the world’s leading symphonic ensembles. In October he received standing ovations in Paris for his concert celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of UNESCO. He has conducted many of the major orchestras of the United States, including those of Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Akron, Alabama, Nashville and North Carolina. Mr. Kwak’s many engagements abroad include concerts with the Rheinische Philharmonie (Germany), the Innsbruck Symphony (Austria), the St. Petersburg Philharmonia and the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra (Russia), the Korean Broadcasting Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic (Korea), the Valla Dolid Symphony (Spain), the Ofunam Symphony (Mexico City), the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra (Venezuela), the Buenos Aires Philharmonic (Argentina) and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Canada).

Among Sung Kwak’s international tours have been three with the Korean Broadcasting Symphony; in 1978, he led that ensemble on a 23-city tour of North America; in 1984, on a five-country tour of Southeast Asia, with concerts in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul; and in 1986, on a tour of Japan, with appearances in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Gobe. Mr. Kwak’s most recent international tour was in 1993 when he led the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra to five cities in South Korea.

Sung Kwak has appeared at several notable events in his homeland, including the Opening Ceremony of the Main Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea in 1987, during which he led the combined Korean Broadcasting Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic and chorus of 1,000 singers in the Celebration Cantata by Byoung Dong Paek. In 1987, Mr. Kwak conducted the Korean opera, Shim Chung Jun, by Dong Jin Kim at the Opening Concert of the Sejong Cultural Center in Seoul.

In addition to his career as a conductor, Sung Kwak has also been active in the training of young musicians, having served as Director of the Conducting Seminar at Caracas, Venezuela, Visiting Professor of Conducting at the University of Texas at Austin, Professor of Conducting and Theory at the Mannes College of Music in New York and Professor of Music at Queens College in New York.

Sung Kwak is married to pianist/lecturer Idee Kordell Kwak, and they are the parents of three children.

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