One World Symphony News

December 2009

One World Symphony Conductor wins VH1 "Save the Music" grant for Harlem Children's Zone

One World Symphony's Artistic Director Sung Jin Hong received VH1's Save the Music Foundation Grant for his work in education at Harlem Children Zone's The Promise Academy. Through music, Hong teaches sound life skills and character education to his students by emphasizing teamwork, commitment and consideration for others. Music encourages the most vital element in any relationship, listening. Music can stimulate an individual's capacity to listen, spark one's curiosity, broaden one's imagination, and become its own unique language or way of expression.

Join Maestro Hong's exploration through sound, rhythm, and harmony in future collaborations with One World Symphony and students from Harlem Children's Zone's The Promise Academy.









November 2009

Another Hit and Another Full House at Halloween Benefit Concert

On October 30, 2009, One World Symphony performed its second annual Halloween concert benefitting St. Ann's Roof Restoration Fund. Similar to last year's Halloween benefit, the event was a full house of horrors. Guest ensembles included AfterShock and Hungry March Band's debut with One World Symphony. Many audience members who also performed in the world premiere of Charley Gerard's The Headless Horseman expressed:

My sincere thanks to you and the orchestra for a stunning program tonight. I think that people had a marvelous time. The inclusion of Hungry March Band and Aftershock were perfect. And One World played beautifully. At this rate, we'll have to turn people away next year! I don't know how this will all fall out financially, but the value of the event far outweighs the dollars. I believe it is extremely good for both One World Symphony and St. Ann's.

* * * * *

I haven't had that much fun on Halloween in years. It was absolutely wonderful! Everyone enjoyed it and they are interested in coming back to more performances. You are creating something very exciting and different here in NYC. Thank you for that! Have a beautiful weekend and Happy Halloween!

* * * * *

Congratulations on another great concert! I really enjoyed the wonderful performance and especially appreciated the various colors and textures you showed. And thank you for giving me an occasion to have "scary fun." I had such a good time being "scary." Believe it or not, I turned down free tickets last night to the New York Philharmonic (Emanuel Ax, pianist w/Beethoven 3rd) to come to YOUR concert. Thank you again for another great concert and "scary" occasion!

* * * * *

Congratulations on a great show and the full house. The reception was a mad zoo. I wanted to congratulate you in person, but you were so busy with others. My favorites were Sorcerer's Apprentice and Songs and Dances of Death, which I also voted. Wished you guys performed all four songs of Mussorgsky. Maybe next year? Kudos on the review and all the great press too.

* * * * *

We loved the concert! Sorcerer's did not remind me of Mickey Mouse at all, but a real substantial symphonic work. What an astounding piece! Horseman was fun in getting us involved, which you do a good job doing. I'm curious to know what you will plan to be doing in next year's Halloween. Was Hungry March Band's prelude considered avant garde?

See our page of Halloween photos!

October 2009

NYPress: Nightmare on Montague Street

by Mike Edison

One Halloween weekend, back when I was a teenager and still living in a blur of amped-up lysergic adventurism, I saw Black Sabbath on a Friday and, barely recuperated, caught the Cramps the next night. If only I could have fit the Misfits in, I would have scored the Unholy Trifecta of Groovy Gloom and Punk Rock Doom.

I am older now, as is Ozzy, who is so ghost-like these days that you can practically see through him. The Cramps are, sadly, real ghosts. And me, well, I just need a new kind of kick. I am finally done with having my ears pummeled by necrophiliac rock bands dripping in pancake make-up and mascara.

So as soon as I am done putting the razor blades in the apples and poisoning the punch, you'll find me basking in the diabolic sounds of the One World Symphony, who are brewing a shrewdly sinister program for the benefit of their Brooklyn home, St. Ann and the Holy Trinity. What better place to spend Halloween than the hallowed halls of a gorgeous Gothic church?

One World, under the baton of evil genius Maestro Sung Jin Hong, will be twirling a subversively scarrrrry program including a slice of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death, Schubert's Erlkönig, a bloody bit from Hollywood sorcerer Danny Elfman's Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack and my favorite, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, also known as "Music to Dig Graves By." The latter features St. Ann's towering, truly terrifying Skinner organ and is worth the price of a dozen candy apples all by itself. It may not have the psychedelic swagger of "Electric Funeral," but at least you won't have to watch a translucent Ozzy plod around the stage in a drug-addled stupor.

October 2009

The Korea Herald: Creator of New York's "Hip" Classical

By Koh Young-aah

Even in this age of crossovers, it is still hard to come by a classical orchestra that ventures out of their usual Tchaikovsky and Beethoven repertoires.

New York-based One World Symphony is an exception. The orchestra is known for its diverse and "hip" programming that ranges from full classical works to pop and even rock music.

"The classical industry has been presenting typical concerts for years. But our programming is very dynamic and diverse. We try to embrace all types of music and find a balance (among them), just like the New York City," said Hong Sung-jin, the Korean-American founder and artistic director of the symphony, in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

One World symphony which was founded by Hong and his wife Adrienne Metzinger-Hong in 2001, now marks its 9th season.

The young artistic director currently runs the symphony -- managing, conducting and composing -- while his mezzo-soprano wife is the managing director. She also works as a full-time graphic designer who does all the visual materials for the orchestra as well.

Hong was born in Seoul but went to the United States when he was aged 10 and later pursued a formal education in conducting in Vienna, he said.

Yet he chose to create his own orchestra instead of joining the mainstream music industry, he said.

"A professor of mine once told me that opportunities for foreign musicians in Vienna are quite challenging and advised me to go for my own opportunities in New York," he said.

So he did, Hong said. Although not a native New Yorker, he said he was able to get in contact with musicians with diverse ethnicities and who matched his vision to launch a symphony together.

Hong also puts a lot of efforts into his orchestra to feature living composers' -- both in-house and from outside -- works, he said. In fact, they have performed multiple premieres of newly written contemporary pieces.

Because audiences tend to prefer concerts where familiar classical pieces are featured, there is a fear in the mainstream music industry of playing new music, said Hong.

"It is difficult to satisfy audiences with classical pieces since they know them well and their expectations are high. However, it is not the case for new pieces. But we are responsible for bringing out the emotional factors (from such works)," he said.

Active interaction with the audience is another thing that Hong emphasizes. Hong said that audience members are allowed to talk in between the symphony's performances and cheer or boo like "sports fans."

Most of some 100 members of Hong's orchestra who were selected through recommendation of the senior members have a formal classical music education. Although they each have a full-time job aside from the ones at the orchestra, they manage to rehearse at least three times a week for a concert, Hong said.

Hong says he aims to create a sound that is beautiful and unique.

"I emphasize sound over rhythm. The deep sound and its emotions are very important to me," he said, adding that he often sees some "emotionally engaged" audiences in tears after their concerts are over.

The orchestra which "started from scratch with absolutely nothing," according to Hong, has now grown largely over the years. It gives 10 to 12 concerts each year which have been receiving positive responses from both critics and audiences.

While the audience size has become much bigger, the musicality has also improved noticeably during the past years. Hong said whereas friends of the members used to make up most of the audience, now the seats are occupied by ordinary young music fans who are regulars at their concerts.

A non-profit organization, it charges 30 dollars for their concert tickets and donates some of the proceeds to charity organizations.

The orchestra also tries to give back to the community by involving themselves in diverse educational activities -- they teach and invite young students to perform for their concerts, for example.

Hong expressed his dream to one day perform with the group in North Korea, saying that he was very moved and impressed by the New York Philharmonic concert there in 2008, despite the political controversies over the event.

Meanwhile, for their upcoming Halloween concert on Oct. 30, One World Symphony will play diverse selection of tunes including Marilyn Manson.

September 2009

Inspiration from Björk, 'The Alchemist' and the Sea: The New York Times's feature review on One World Symphony's 2009/2010 season premiere The Wayfarer

By Vivien Schweitzer
Published: September 14, 2009

One World Symphony has performed many premieres since its founding in 2001 by the composer and conductor Sung Jin Hong., its Web site, states that it performs new music “that is accessible, in which composers compose for the ‘people’ instead of their colleagues in academia.”

Mr. Hong’s “From the Alchemist,” which the orchestra performed on Sunday at the Ansche Chesed Synagogue on the Upper West Side, is certainly accessible. Inspired by the novel “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, it was composed for One World Symphony to perform at Mr. Hong’s wedding to the mezzo-soprano Adrienne Metzinger. A lushly neo-Romantic work, it quotes the Adagietto of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and sounds as if it were written before a Mahlerian altar.

From a novel to a lush Mahlerian sound.

The concert — a benefit for the orchestra’s Community Music Program, which offers discounted tickets to underprivileged children and their parents — opened with Emilia Tamburri’s effective arrangement of Bjork’s “New World,” used in the film “Dancer in the Dark.” This version featured AfterShock, a five-man a cappella group whose singers replicated the sonic effects of the original.

Also on the lineup was a lithe rendition of Mendelssohn’s concert overture “The Hebrides,” which Mr. Hong prefaced with brief comments about composers who were inspired by water, playing a few bars of the overture to highlight the most evocative passages. In the Mendelssohn and in Vaughan Williams’s bleak one-act opera “Riders to the Sea,” which came next, the woodwinds were the strongest section of the orchestra.

Vaughan Williams’s work, based on the play by the Irish author J. M. Synge, tells the story of Maurya, a widow who has lost her husband and four of her six sons to the sea. During the opera she learns that the body of Michael, a missing son, has been discovered; then Bartley, her last surviving son, also dies.

Dina Gulnara Mitzanova offered a moving performance as Maurya, and Katharine Gunnink and Anne Marie Schubert sang expressively as Cathleen and Nora, the two daughters.

The concert concluded on a similarly somber note, with a convincing performance by the bright-voiced soprano Natasha Uspensky. She sang one of the most poignant songs in the classical canon: Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” (“I am lost to the world”) from the Rückert Lieder.

September 2009

Roaring out of Brooklyn comes the Hungry March Band, NYC's legendary street brass march band, showing off the anarchic style that has become their trademark. The Hungry March Band will collaborate for the first time with a symphony orchestra -- New York's own One World Symphony for one night only on Friday, October 30, 2009. The immensely popular band and "New York's hippest orchestra" will perform The Headless Horseman (2009) a world premiere composition specifically written for both ensembles and audience members by Brooklyn composer Charles Gerard.

The Hungry March Band has earned a reputation for mythical revelry, having performed at a huge variety of fine venues and celebrated events. Such planned and spontaneous performances have included guerilla art events, mermaid parades, rural raves, subway parties, eccentric weddings, community affairs, protests, high art events, the Staten Island Ferry, Brighton Beach Boardwalks, MOMA, Lincoln Center, the steps of the James A. Farley Post Office, playing themselves in the final scene of John Cameron Mitchell's recent film Shortbus, and many other forays into the territories of free spirit.

Their original song styles range from New Orleans street band, European brass tradition, and Gypsy/Roma classics to Indian wedding brass bands, the jazz world, and the global community of NYC. The band is an ever-evolving musical experiment influenced and inspired by Brooklyn's backyard with Latin flavor, punk rock noise, hip hop beats and music of the streets.

The Hungry March Band and One World Symphony, under the baton of artistic director Sung Jin Hong, will captivate audience members of all ages and tastes with active interaction throughout the program.

Celebrate Halloween with One World Symphony and The Hungry March Band by putting on your dancing shoes, breaking out the fancy threads, wearing your favorite costumes, and bringing the entire family. Don't miss this spirited fusion of blazing parades and music. Net proceeds will go towards St. Ann's Roof Restoration Fund.

August 2009

Travel Is Orchestra's Theme: a feature article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

By Don Evans

Artistic director Sung Jin Hong will be conducting the One World Symphony and like a travel guide taking the audience on a global tour with musical "Passport/Postcards" as the orchestra enters its ninth season at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church at Montague and Clinton Streets in Brooklyn Heights on Friday, September 11, at 8 p.m.

First stop on the musical voyage is in the North Atlantic via Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave). Next comes Riders to the Sea, a one-act musical drama by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Then a weary world is described in a Gustav Mahler song translated as "I have become lost to the world."

Hong premieres his own composition From the Alchemist at the evening's ending. It is based on Paulo Coehlo's novel. The music traces a wayfarer's journeys through all obstacles to realize his destiny, Hong said.

Halloween comes a night ahead of time with "Nightmare on Montague St." on Friday, October 30, at 8 p.m. For the second year this benefit will raise funds to help repair the landmark church's leaky roof.

For this spooky evening Hong becomes a sorcerer while the church's music director Gregory Eaton is the phantom organist.

Friends of the orchestra pick the program in advance, voting by email for four choices from a list of seven "frightful" musical works. For the list and voting, consult Audience members arriving in full costume earn a ticket discount.

Travel themes and program highlights for the rest of the season are:

Jan. 22 -- Winter Waltzes: Vienna, featuring Johann Strauss' opera Die Fledermaus (The Bat) sung in English.

March 5 -- From Russia with Love, offering Peter Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and his Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor with Christopher Johnson, pianist.

May 7 -- Prague Spring and Leos Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen.

June 4 -- C'est l'Amour, featuring an ensemble singing Edith Piaf favorites.

Ticket prices performance details are available at A long list of audition dates and rules are also posted on the website.

June 2009

One World Symphony announces its ninth season, Passports/Postcards.