History of KCS

Pianist Soyeon Lee takes her bows.

The Korean Concert Society was founded in 1980 by nine families from the Washington, DC area who wanted to present world-class music in the Washington area while providing opportunities to artists of Korean heritage from all over the world who were beginning to launch their careers.

Many of the founders were Korean immigrants with a background in classical music.  They had witnessed how the first generation of Korean classical music superstars that arose in the 1960’s and 1970’s that included Kyung-Wha Chung, Young Wook Kim, and Dong-Suk Kang had served as cultural ambassadors for Korea (and the Korean diaspora).  These musicians were also at the vanguard of the true internationalization of western classical music.  The founders of KCS wanted to foster the next generation of Korean classical music ambassadors.

A grassroots cultural organization

In the beginning, the Society selected the artists by recommendations of friends and families.  The Society’s members paid for the cost of renting a venue, transportation for the artists, and advertisement out of their own pockets.  Artists from out of town stayed in members’ homes.  KCS became an important part of the cultural life of the fast-growing Korean-American community.  The society has enjoyed increasing support from this community as well as the larger arts community in Washington, DC and now holds a formal application/audition process and presents the selected artists annually at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.

The next 30 years

The Society plans to continue discovering and nurturing young artists and building cultural bridges that link the Korean-American community with its neighbors in the diverse capital area.  We are working to expand our reach by working with new venues and partners such as the Korean Cultural Center, but also by expanding our support for talented artists in other genres such as jazz and other performing arts.