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00707012
2013.01
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KOREAN

Korea Foundation Marks it 21st Anniversary with year-end Concert / Showcase Event for Korea's Foremost Performers of Classical Music

The Korea Foundation staged a 2012 year-end concert to celebrate its 21st anniversary at the IBK Chamber Hall of the Seoul Arts Center on December 12. This showcase event featured the musicians who have contributed to boosting Korea's image throughout the global community. From the audience, who packed the performance hall and lobby, I could readily sense their eagerness to see the old year out and to welcome the New Year.

Celebratory Performance

Celebratory Performance In early December, while looking forward to the year-end holiday season, people will often make an effort to participate in a variety of activities to take advantage of the remaining days and say farewell to the previous year. And with this winter's extremely cold weather, it is all the more pleasurable to enjoy a delightful musical performance in the comfort of a venue like the Seoul Arts Center.

Traditionally, the KF year-end concerts feature notable musicians who have been active on the international tage to help upgrade Korea's global status. Well aware of the significance of the Foundation's support for cultural diplomacy, the musicians who share and exemplify the KF's vision, of ''upgrading Korea's image through the arts" have actively participated in various cultural activities organized or sponsored by the Foundation.

The 2012 year-end concert was headlined by Korea's foremost chamber group and a next-generation clarinet player. The ensemble group was the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra, led by director Park Sang-yeon, which had toured six European countries this past summer as part of the Foundation's endeavors to introduce Korean culture abroad. The group earned high acclaim from the European audiences and media for its refined musical artistry. The clarinetist was Kim Han, a young but fast-rising star who previously appeared in the KF-sponsored Seoul International Music Festival, as the youngest-ever solo artist.


Humorous and Exquisite Works

The concert opened with the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra performing Dmitri Shostakovich's ''Two Pieces for String Octet Op. 11." Scherzo's rhythm and dramatic melody, combined with the year-end's festive atmosphere, provided the audience with a vibrant first impression. Building on this positive tone, Kim Han played Giampieri's ''Carnival of Venice" and Lee Kun-yong's ''Song in the Dusk" with a palpable Korean scent. Lee Kun-yong's composition was inspired by the folk songs of Gyeonggi-do that include gyeongtori (flat melodies) adapted for clarinet, which provide a daunting challenge for the soloist who must freely flow from high and low registers. But Kim presented a masterful rendition, along with subtle facial expressions for emphasis.

Hwaum Chamber Orchestra performs Shostakovich's ''Two Pieces for String Octet Op. 11.' / Clarinet virtuoso Kim Han presents his interpretation of Schreiner's 'Immer Kleiner.'

This was followed by ''Shalom Aleichem, Rov Feidman," by Bela Kovacs, which conveyed an exotic and fanciful style to accentuate the vivid colors of Hungary and Budapest. To complete the first half of the program, Kim demonstrated his versatility by performing Schreiner's humorous ''Immer Kleiner." during which he disassembles the clarinet's sections until he ends up playing only the mouthpiece..

Musical Welcome to the New Year

For the second half, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra performed Edvard Grieg's well-known ''From Holberg's Time (Holberg Suite) Op. 40." This work is known to be difficult for performers because it comprises the musical diversity of several composers. However, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra's exceptional ability to interpret and perform the richness of this piece was duly acknowledged by the audience's enthusiastic applause. Then, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra shared the stage with Kim Han to jointly perform Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto in A Major K. 622, Second Movement." Used as the soundtrack for the ''Out of Africa" film, the beloved melody calls for a graceful harmony of the string and wind instruments. Again, the audience burst into a loud and long applause to express its appreciation for such a reminiscent musical journey.

For a finale of the regular program, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra presented the works of pianist and composer Brian Suits, which had been commissioned for the group's 2012 European tour. Blending together the folk songs of six European countries (Denmark, Portugal, Belgium, Geneva, Serbia and Ireland), the music gave the audience a brief tour of the group's destinations in Europe. And of course, the audience was hardly satisfied with the regular program alone. So, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra was obliged to take the stage again, this time to play a medley of popular Christmas tunes. Finally satisfied, the audience filed out of the venue to face the icy weather of this winter, but with a measure of warmth in their hearts.

Korea Foundation Marks it 21st Anniversary with year-end Concert

Choi Kyung-soo Freelance Writer

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