March 12, 2024
Inaugural Sejong Here & Now Festival at Carnegie's Zankel Hall

Sejong Soloists

Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall

 Sejong Soloists Launches New Spring Festival in New York and Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Friday, May 17 at 7:30 PM
Wednesday, May 22 at 7:30 PM

 Inaugural 2024 Festival Includes World Premieres by
Augusta Read Thomas and Texu Kim and a
US Premiere by Unsuk Chin

With Special Guests:
Steven Banks, saxophone | Hannah von Wiehler, conductor
Juliana Zara, soprano | Earl Lee, conductor
Four Sejong Concertmaster Alumni
Frank Huang, David Chan, Andrew Wan, Daniel Cho

 Tickets start at $35 | CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800
Box Office: 57th Street and Seventh Avenue 

New York, NY: March 12, 2024 – Internationally renowned New York-based chamber orchestra Sejong Soloists presents the first biennial Sejong Here & Now Festival, dedicated to commissioning and performing exciting new works for strings and soloists alongside carefully curated selections from the classical repertoire. The inaugural festival—taking place on May 17 and 22, 2024, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall—celebrates Sejong Soloists’ milestone 30th anniversary with two commissioned world premieres, a US premiere and distinguished guest artists. Tickets are available at  

On May 17, Sejong Here & Now 2024 presents a world premiere by Augusta Read Thomas on the occasion of her 60th birthday alongside music by Bach and Tchaikovsky. On May 22, the concert features a world premiere by Texu Kim written expressly for this 30th Anniversary concert in collaboration with the four violinists who will be featured as soloists—all of whom are former Sejong Soloists concertmasters and now serve as concertmasters at leading world orchestras. The May 22 concert also features the US premiere of “Puzzles and Games,” a section of Unsuk Chin’opera Alice in Wonderland that the composer arranged for ensemble in 2019, as well as Mendelssohn’s Octet.  

From its inception in 1994, Sejong Soloists has been dedicated to musical excellence, and many of its alumni have landed concertmaster and leading roles in orchestras around the world. “The Sejong Here & Now Festival marks the beginning of our next 30 years,” says Creative and Executive Director Kyung Kang, “and reaffirms our commitment to commissioning new work for the 21st century, exploring new technologies, and continuing to perform pieces from the classical canon with virtuosity and excitement.” Sejong recently commissioned and premiered Overstory Overture by Tod Machover, featuring mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, in March 2023 in New York and in Seoul, Korea to critical acclaim. Classical Voice North America wrote that the orchestra was “taut and focused yet buoyant” and “demonstrated an exceptional sense of balance, allowing each voice to emerge organically.” “The success of our collaboration last year with Tod Machover,” Kang continues, “inspired us to create a recurring opportunity to explore music by living composers who are responding to our ever-changing world.”

Augusta Read Thomas, Composer

Friday, May 17, 2024 at 7:30 pm
 Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, BWV 1049
Augusta Read Thomas Haemosu’s Celestial Chariot Ride (World Premiere)
 Serenade for Strings

The celebrated American composer Augusta Read Thomas has been described as “a true virtuoso composer” by The New Yorker. Her music is “always in motion, as if coming perpetually out of a magician’s hat…playful and subtle, dancing on light feet. It is music that conjures" (Huffington Post) and “reaffirms the vitality of orchestral music” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

In her new work, Haemosu’s Celestial Chariot Ride, commissioned by Sejong and written for the ensemble and saxophone soloist Steven Banksshe imagines “panoramas seen and experiences incited when taking a ride with Haemosu [the revered Korean Sun God] through sparkling, empathetic, and radiant adventures. The saxophone soloist steers the flying chariot, escorting us across those auras, offering views from the vantage point of the sky.” The 30-minute saxophone concerto is inspired by six Korean Sijo poems (from the 16th to 20th centuries) that present beautiful scenes, energies, and moods and is performed in six movements without pause. Complete program note and text of Sijo poems available HERE.

Thomas says, “Music for me is an embrace of the world, a way to open myself to being alive — in my body, in my sounds, and in my mind. It has been exhilarating to compose for Sejong Soloists and Steven Banks – their brilliant musicianship, insightful interpretations, superb ears for musical nuance, and generous empathy enrich the lives of countless human beings.”

Steven Banks, Saxophone; Hannah von Wiehler, Conductor

Conducting Thomas’s world premiere on May 17 is Hannah von Wiehler, known as a trail-blazer and free-thinker, having launched her own orchestra and created critically-acclaimed multi-genre, multi-media programming for it.  She also has a doctorate from the University of Oxford, and a natural affinity for languages: she speaks seven languages, and is now tackling her eighth. She is the founding Music Director of Orchestra VOX, an ensemble dedicated to the intersection of classical music and social impact, based the UK.

Also on the program on May 17 are Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, with Sejong violinist Stephen Kim and flutists Sooyun Kim and Yoobin Son as soloists; and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings (both performed without a conductor).


Texu Kim, Composer; Unsuk Chin, Composer

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 7:30 pm
Unsuk Chin
 Puzzles and Games from Alice in Wonderland (2019; US Premiere)
Felix Mendelssohn Octet for Strings
Texu Kim with/out (World Premiere)

On May 22, Sejong Soloists presents the world premiere of another commissioned work, with/out, by Korean-American composer Texu Kim. The three-movement work was written specifically to celebrate Sejong’s 30th Anniversary and features four violin soloists – all alumni concertmasters of Sejong who have gone on to major concertmaster posts around the world—Frank Huang (New York Philharmonic), David Chan (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Andrew Wan (Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal), and Daniel Cho (Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra).

“I asked each soloist for some thoughts about Sejong before I began composing with/out,” said Kim. “It was no surprise to me that they all mentioned the ensemble's soloistic (and, therefore, virtuosic) nature, but they all also mentioned how family-like Sejong was to them. I wanted to honor this sentiment, and it confirmed my initial idea about this piece being based on 'various human relationships/dynamics.'”


Clockwise from top left: Daniel Cho, Frank Huang, David Chan, Andrew Wan, Violinists

Throughout its three movements, Kim’s with/out explores disconnects among humans in contemporary society. A second-movement cadenza for all four soloists is inspired by the psychological phenomenon of “collective monologues,” when young children all talk at once without appearing to meaningfully communicate with each other. The work’s final movement takes a more optimistic stance and positions Sejong Soloists as a force for connection in a fragmented society. Composer’s program note available HERE.

“This opportunity to write for such a terrific group of musicians,” added Kim, “especially violinists, is an enormous privilege, particularly as a person who learned the violin as a kid, and as a student, knew Sejong's reputation for musicality and collaboration with esteemed composers like Earl Kim and Sukhi Kang. I am honored to be in their company, and hope my piece pays proper homage to this group’s history!”

The four violin soloists—Huang, Chan, Wan and Cho—also join members of Sejong Soloists to perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings.

Opening the concert on May 22 is the US premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Puzzles and Games, a 20-minute section of her highly acclaimed opera Alice in Wonderland arranged in 2019 for strings, winds, soprano and percussion and premiered in Germany by the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic.  The full opera Alice in Wonderland (2007) was named World Premiere of the Year by Opernglas magazine.  “I am so happy to work together with Sejong Soloists for the first time,” says Chin. “I have known about their creative, innovative activities for a very long time, and I am deeply touched by their musicality and totally enthusiastic about their highly professional, virtuosic performances.”


Juliana Zara, Soprano; Earl Lee, Conductor

The renowned Korean-Canadian conductor Earl Lee, winner of the 2022 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, conducts. Lee is in his second season as Music Director of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and in his third season as Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Puzzles & Games features soloist Juliana Zara, who is making her Carnegie Hall debutZara was featured on the cover of Opernwelt Magazine in May 2023, and she has been nominated for both a prestigious German Theater Prize Der Faust for her portrayal of the title character in Berg’s Lulu at Staatstheater Darmstadt, and Opus Klassik’s Singer of the Year for her interpretation of Bubikopf in her recording of Der Kaiser von Atlantis on BR Klassik. She will appear in a production of Alice in Wonderland at Concertgebouw in Amsterdam later this May.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at 7:00 pm
Documentary Film – “Earl”
Advance Screening of a Work in Progress
Korean Cultural Center New York, 122 E 32 Street
Admission Free | Reservations Required

Following the Festival, Sejong Soloists and the Korean Cultural Center of New York present an advance screening of a work in progress, the documentary film “Earl,” which follows the fascinating life story of composer, teacher and mentor, Earl Kim, whose music valued economy, precision and quietude, and who was an important mentor to younger composers during a 23-year career at Harvard University. The film is directed by filmmaker Ty Kim, winner of six Los Angeles Emmy Awards.



Friday, May 17, 2024 at 7:30 pm

J.S. BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, BWV 1049 (1719-20)
AUGUSTA READ THOMAS Haemosu’s Celestial Chariot Ride (World Premiere)
          Stephen Banks, saxophone
          Hannah von Wiehler, conductor
-- Intermission –

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 7:30 pm

UNSUK CHIN Puzzles and Games from Alice in Wonderland (2019; US Premiere)
          Juliana Zara, soprano
          Earl Lee, conductor
-- Intermission –
TEXU KIM with/out (World Premiere)
          Frank Huang, violin
          David Chan, violin
          Andrew Wan, violin
          Daniel Cho, violin



Hailed by CNN as “one of the top ensembles of today,” Sejong Soloists is a first-class chamber orchestra renowned for its exceptional dynamic style with ranges of quartet-like precision to full orchestra resonance. Sejong Soloists has performed over 600 concerts in more than 120 cities throughout the world, and is highly praised for its innovative programming, documentaries, television broadcasts, and recordings. The ensemble has championed and commissioned music by distinguished living composers such as Augusta Read Thomas, Richard Danielpour and Eric Ewazen—with whom Sejong has ongoing collaborations—as well as Osvaldo Golijov, Tan Dun and others. For more information, visit Sejong Soloists' website

Artist Bios 

Augusta Read Thomas, composer
Texu Kim, composer
Unsuk Chin, composer
Steven Banks, saxophone
Hannah von Wiehler, conductor
Earl Lee, conductor
Juliana Zara, soprano
Frank Huang, violin
David Chan, violin
Andrew Wan, violin
Daniel Cho, violin
Sejong Soloists
Sejong Here & Now Festival

This project is supported by Arts Council Korea


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