The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Anna J. Park an­na­j­[email protected]­re­

This year’s Seoul In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, one of the ma­jor an­nual clas­si­cal mu­sic fes­ti­vals held ev­ery au­tumn in Korea, has be­gun its 11th in­stall­ment.

This year’s Seoul In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val (SIMF), one of the ma­jor an­nual clas­si­cal mu­sic fes­ti­vals held ev­ery au­tumn in Korea, has be­gun its 11th in­stall­ment.

Un­der the theme of “Hu­mans and En­vi­ron­ment,” the au­tumn fes­ti­val pro­vides 11 a va­ri­ety of love mu­sic events, rang­ing from or­ches­tra con­certs and recitals to cham­ber mu­sic con­certs, un­til Nov. 8.

“Ev­ery con­cert’s ti­tle is re­lated to the theme of the fes­ti­val, such as Fallen Leaves, and On the Thresh­old of Win­ter, aim­ing to evoke con­scious­ness about per­va­sive en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and crises,” the fes­ti­val’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Ryu Jea-joon said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held at Pung Wol Dang in south­ern Seoul, Thurs­day.

“En­vi­ron­ment is a huge con­cept; the rea­son we put hu­mans in the theme as Hu­mans and En­vi­ron­ment is be­cause we ac­tu­ally need to pro­tect hu­mans more than the Earth it­self. Com­pared to the Earth’s ori­gin that dates back some 4.5 bil­lion years, the his­tory of hu­mans is just in­com­pa­ra­bly short. We need to put ef­forts to con­serve the en­vi­ron­ment for our­selves and for the next gen­er­a­tion,” the artis­tic di­rec­tor of the fes­ti­val said.

Be­sides the fo­cus and in­spi­ra­tion from the na­ture, the SIMF com­mem­o­rates spe­cial 30-year an­niver­saries of es­tab­lish­ing diplo­matic ties with both Hun­gary and Poland.

The Gyor Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra, one of the most re­spected Hun­gar­ian clas­si­cal mu­si­cal en­sem­bles, kicked off the 17-day fes­ti­val last week with their spe­cial per­for­mance ti­tled “A Can­dle by the Danube.”

The con­cert not only cel­e­brated the 30-year re­la­tion­ship be­tween South Korea and Hun­gary, but also paid trib­ute to the more than two dozen Korean vic­tims, mostly tourists, in a tragic ac­ci­dent that took place in Bu­dapest in May.

The con­cert per­formed some of the most iconic pieces by Hun­gar­ian com­posers, Liszt and Bar­tok.

An­other an­niver­sary con­cert was held on Oct. 26. The spe­cial con­cert com­mem­o­rated the 30 years of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween Seoul and Warsaw, un­der the ti­tle of “Ques­tion­ing the Way of Man.”

Leg­endary Pol­ish con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal mu­sic com­poser Krzysztof Pen­derecki’s “St. Luke Pas­sion,” one of the com­poser’s most well-known mas­ter­pieces pre­miered in Ger­many’s Mun­ster Cathe­dral in 1966 that gar­nered the honor of the Nor­drhein-west­falen Grand Prize that year.

“Through his mu­sic, Pen­derecki throws a pow­er­ful ques­tion, ‘what do hu­mans live for?’” Ryu wrote in the pro­gram book. Ryu him­self is also a pupil of the Pol­ish com­poser, study­ing com­po­si­tion at the Krakow Mu­sic Academy in Poland.

“St. Luke Pas­sion is a piece that tran­scends re­li­gion and is a ques­tion for all hu­man­ity. It is a story about a man who took on the suf­fer­ings for the ones who hated him, and it is also a re­flec­tion of the com­poser who lived through the tur­bu­lence of World War II and the era of the Iron Cur­tain.”

Pen­derecki was orig­i­nally sup­posed to lead the con­cert in Seoul, yet ac­cord­ing to the sec­re­tar­iat of the SIMF, the 85-year-old com­poser could not make it due to his health.

More than seven con­certs re­main un­til the end of the fes­ti­val.

On the evening of Oct. 29, “SIMF Sin­foni­etta Cra­covia,” where Pen­derecki’s “Sin­foni­etta No. 3 Leaves from an Un­writ­ten Di­ary” will be pre­miered in Korea. Mozart’s beloved “Sym­phony No. 40,” “Horn Con­certo No.3” as well as Haydn’s “Sym­phony 43, Mer­cury” will also be per­formed un­der the ba­ton of con­duc­tor Jurek Dy­bal.

Cham­ber mu­sic con­certs “Ren­dezvous and Farewell” on Oct. 31, “A Surf­ing Beach’ on Nov. 1, and “Bal­lad of Spring” on Nov. 2 in­vite many of the most sought-after tal­ented mu­si­cians of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion both in and out­side of Korea, pre­sent­ing var­i­ous works by Karl Weigl, Brahms, Strauss, Brit­ten, and more.

Arto No­ras and Ralf Gothoni’s duo recital ti­tled “Fallen Leaves” on Nov. 6 is also one of the high­lights of the fes­ti­val; au­di­ences can lis­ten to har­mo­nious and ma­ture mu­sic cre­ated by two mae­stros who have spent more than five decades in mu­sic.

The fes­ti­val ends on Nov. 8 with “On a Sunny Day.”

The clos­ing con­cert in­vites fa­mous per­form­ers who stud­ied at the world-renowned Cur­tis In­sti­tute of Mu­sic in the U.S., in­clud­ing flutist Jas­mine Choi, vi­o­list Roberto Diaz, cel­list Chris­tine Lee and vi­olin­ist Dami Kim.

Pieces rang­ing from the clas­si­cal and ro­man­tic pe­riod of Mozart and Brahms to mod­ern pieces by Villa-Lo­bos and Schoen­field will be pre­sented to the au­di­ence, en­com­pass­ing both the past and the present of clas­si­cal mu­sic.

Mean­while, a spe­cial CD ti­tled “Mo­bius” was in­ter­na­tion­ally re­leased last Fri­day through the Warner Clas­sics la­bel, con­tain­ing three pieces, Pen­derecki’s “Sym­phony No. 5,” Ryu’s “Pi­ano Con­certo” and Lee Geon-yong’s “Gyol.”

Cour­tesy of SIMF

The spe­cial con­cert on Oct. 26 com­mem­o­rates the 30-year an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic ties be­tween South Korea and Poland. The con­cert presents leg­endary Pol­ish com­poser Pen­derecki’s “St. Luke Pas­sion,” which was pre­miered in Ger­many’s Mun­ster Cathe­dral in 1966.

Artis­tic di­rec­tor Ryu Jea-joon

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