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00707012
2012.09
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KOREAN

Transcending Cultural Borders with the Power of Music/Hwaum Chamber Orchestra Completes 2012 European Tour


The essence of the arts lies in content and technical perfection. A certain degree of technical perfection can be attained with the individual artist’s talent and dedication, but content, or the intrinsic value of the arts, is a different matter that involves the expression of identity. This is the reason that the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra views music from an artistic standpoint, rather than approaching it merely from that of performing ability. This belief gave birth to the Hwaum (literally “painting and music”) Project for “performing music inspired by works of art displayed in galleries or museums.”

Tour for Cultural Diplomacy

July 9: Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland The audience at this first performance by a Korean performing arts group at the UN Assembly Hall in Geneva included ambassadors from various countries and officials of major international organizations, such as the UN, WTO, ITU, WIPO, and ILO.An overseas concert tour can have various purposes. But when a musical group is representing its country, the effort carries special significance. Considering the role of the arts on the international stage, it becomes evident that the performers assume responsibility for cultural diplomacy. A Korean chamber orchestra touring six European countries surely indicated a remarkable shift in the nation’s cultural diplomacy. This tour also reflected notable advancement Korea has achieved in the cultural and artistic fields. In the past, culture used to be discussed from a binary perspective of the East and the West. But with the advent of the 21st century, breaking away from this conventional frame has become a prerequisite for the world, regardless of the East or the West, to explore new horizons. Ironically, in this era of practicality, only the artistic values can tear apart the borders between different cultures and open new ways forward.

July 11: Salle M of the Center for Fine Arts (BOZAR), Brussels, Belgium The audience included prominent figures from international organizations, such as EU and NATO, and the secretary-general of the Organizing Committee of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition.Exploring the future directions for creative music is a daunting question faced by musicians not only in Korea or Asia but of the whole world. Hence, with the belief that a crossover of music and the fine art can be an alternative, the Hwaum Project was launched more than a decade ago. In this regard, the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra’s latest European concert tour was as significant for its artistic venture as for its primary mission as a cultural emissary. It was a valuable opportunity to introduce the Hwaum Project and define its potential and future prospects as well as fulfill the orchestra’s founding objective.


Communication through On-the-Spot Music

July 13: Main Stage of the National Theater, Belgrade, Serbia The concert had a full-house audience in site of a heat wave. The chamber ensemble’s rendition of the Serbian folk song “Tamo Daleko” deeply moved the audience.   Since the time of its founding in 1996, the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra has set its sights on the international stage. Thus, it initially planned to launch its activities in major European cities to take advantage of their abundant infrastructure. But believing that creating its own identity was of the foremost importance, it decided to start out in Korea, despite its relatively barren environment. It wanted to grow up like a pine tree struggling amidst a harsh environment to become gnarled but sturdy, if not thriving immediately.

July 16: Main Auditorium of the National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland The audience included the speaker of the House of Representatives, the public prosecutor-general, and the mayor of Dublin. The concert ended with a standing ovation, which was followed by a dialogue with the audience. The latest concert tour was particularly meaningful for the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra as it enabled the group to come up with concrete measures to upgrade its concert capabilities and audience appeal. Also, with a program that included its original works from the Hwaum Project as well as local folk songs, the group successfully demonstrated its identity amid satisfactory interactions with audiences.

Throughout the tour, every concert was recorded so that the members could review their performance during breaks, or while moving to the hotel or traveling to the next city. And they had discussions on their performances even after the final concert. All these activities turned out to be extremely useful experiences for the group’s self-improvement, because it is practically impossible to have such experiences in Seoul where they usually give no more than one or two performances of a program.

Another notable outcome is that the tour helped to confirm our belief that “on-the-spot” music – which we use instead of “contemporary” or “creative” music – can be appreciated by foreign audiences. This positive response has done much to boost the confidence of the orchestra and will further help it develop more successful works, as it looks forward to Hwaum Project Op.110 which is slated for August, and the Hwaum Project Festival in late fall. The orchestra also plans to launch an international version of the Hwaum Project.

While traveling the six European countries, each member of the group served as a cultural diplomat, cooperating with concert staffs and related people in the host countries and meeting guests from various walks of life at receptions. Although the orchestra and the Korea Foundation had to prepare the tour in a limited period of time, our two organizations had little difficulty as we fully understood each other thanks to our shared passion for culture and the arts. Lastly, on behalf of the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Foundation for offering us a great opportunity for internal growth.

Park Sang-yeon
President and Music Director, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra

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