The Gwangju Civic Symphony was formed in 1967 by students and alumni from Chosun University’s music department and local musicians. Led by Chosun music professor Sin-deok Jang, it was the first orchestral music in Gwangju. From this, seven years later in July 1976, the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra was officially founded as the city’s representative public orchestra.
Through its 43 years of history and tradition, the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra has held almost 350 regular concerts as well as over 800 other performances. In 2016, it recruited world-famous maestro Hongje KIM. While aspiring to represent not just Gwangju, but all of Asia, the orchestra is focusing its efforts on three major goals: improvement of musicianship and expansion of repertories, strengthening its domestic and foreign brand, and its orchestral education program.
The orchestra is developing and managing various kinds of opportunity programs including the concert commentary program Classic Talk, the age-specific programs GSO TEENS and GSO KIDS, a humanities concert, and more. The outdoor festival-style concert GSO PROMS began in 2018, and features performances and a music playground experience, and has become a major brand item for the orchestra through the active participation and positive responses from local residents.
In 2010, the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra was invited to Asia Orchestra Week and performed at the Opera City Concert Hall in Tokyo and Symphony Hall in Osaka. In 2016, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its establishment, the orchestra rented the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre of Japan. Ticket sales were unprecedented and 1,800 people attended, creating a regional sensation. In 2017, the orchestra undertook a concert tour in two European countries, performing at the Smetana Hall, Prague, Czech Republic, and the Linz Bruckner House, Austria, earning favorable reviews from the local public and media. In 2018, its performance at the Tama Center concert hall, Tokyo sold out. To improve its international brand, the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra is conducting concert tours overseas as well as actively pursuing exchanges with famous international orchestras. The orchestra devised joint recitals with members from world-famous orchestras including the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, and others. Gwangju Symphony Orchestra has further been selected as the host of the ‘Asia-Pacific Orchestra Summit 2020’ in October 2020.
- GSO Founding Concert (July 22, 1976) Gwangju Citizens’ Hall
- 1st Regular Concert (April 13, 1977) Gwangju Citizens’ Hall
- Event to Celebrate Gwangju’s Rise to Direct-Controlled Municipality (November 2, 1986) Gwangju Citizens’ Hall
- Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” in Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the 18 May Gwangju Democratization Movement (May 17, 2010) Gwangju Culture and Art Center
- Special Concert with Angela Gheorghiu (Nov 18, 2017) Lotte Concert Hall
- 1st GSO PROMS (Sep 16, 2018) Gwangju Culture and Art Center
- The Tribute Concert for the 10th anniversary of President Kim Dae-jung (Aug 17. 2019) Kim Dae-jung Convention Center
- Asia Orchestra Week 2010
(Oct 3. 2010) Tokyo Operacity Concert Hall, Japan
(Oct 4. 2010) Osaka Symphony Hall, Japan
- 40th Anniversary Japan Concert (Jun 30. 2016) Tokyo Metropolitan Theater, Japan
- GS0 2017 Europe Tour
(Oct 22. 2017) Smetana Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
(Oct 25. 2017) Linz Bruckner House, Austria
- GS0 2018 Special Concert
(Oct 12 2018) Tokyo Tama Center Concert hall, Japan
Social Contribution Projects
- Visiting Art Troupe : mini concerts for citizens otherwise prevented from visiting concert halls
- Seat Sharing : provides free tickets to the culturally underprivileged class to offer opportunities to appreciate art and culture
Concert-Related Education Programs
- Classical Music Workbook : created for and distributed to youths to enhance their understanding of classical music
- Classical Music Talk : a preview of concert repertoires with classical music professionals
- Concert Story : a hands-on program to help children understand classical music more easily and with more fun along the way
- Experience-the-Instruments : pop-up style master classes led by GSO members
- Very young composer : Students create their own music performed by GSO members