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Annual Seoul Spring Festival to offer rare chance to hear chamber music in Seoul

All Headlines 19:50 May 14, 2018

By Park Boram

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- Since its launch in 2006, the annual Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music has provided a rare venue to bring together pianists, string and wind instrument players both young and old from across the world to tune up for the classical music form largely neglected in South Korea.

The 13th edition of the festival set to kick off on Tuesday will stage a total of 16 chamber music concerts under the theme "Carte Blanche," interpreted as unlimited discretionary power, in the course of the 13-day festivity under the directorship of Kang Dong-suk.

In addition to the usual chamber music repertory involving music pieces by more renowned composers like Mozart, Brahms, or Beethoven, the 2018 festival will stage rarer pieces by composers, such as Boccherini and Bax, Kang said during a press conference in Seoul on Monday.

"We had so many difficulties even in finding the score for Boccherini's quintet (for flute and strings)," Kang said. He had to resort to personal connections to finally secure the score from the Los Angeles Philharmonic after a lot of searching and contact at the last minute of setting the program, according to Kang, a famed violinist who is currently teaching at Seoul's Yonsei University.

In this photo provided by the organizing committee of the Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music, violinist Kang Dong-suk (third from R) and other participants attend a press conference in Seoul on May 14, 2018 for the 13th festival. (Yonhap)

Following the festival's more than 10-year tradition, one of the concerts will be hosted outside of official music chambers at an old Christian church in central Seoul, an attempt to mix the Western tradition into the Korean. The concert will be followed by a reception at the preserved traditional Korean house of former President Yun Bo-sun in an old part of central Seoul.

In this photo provided by the organizing committee of the Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music, violinist Kang Dong-suk speaks during a press conference in Seoul on May 14, 2018 for the 13th festival. (Yonhap)

The festival will also provide a debut stage for British pianist Jeremy Menuhin's new chamber piece, "Suite for two Pianos," according to Kang.

"All of those who are playing for this festival are mostly solo players. So it's difficult to have a chance to play alongside them if it's not for this occasion," said Jasmine Choi, who will open the first session of the festival with Rossini's flute quartet on Tuesday at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul.

"I am thankful that there's a venue like this for talented classical music soloists to gather for a chamber music performance," she said. "It's also a good opportunity to introduce the form of chamber music to those who are not familiar with it and bring it closer to those who are already familiar," Choi said.

French clarinetist Romain Guyot, who will be playing throughout the festival, is among a handful of foreign instrument players who have participated in the annual event for many years.

"Chamber music is something different than playing solo or recitals. That's for musicians so we have to put at least half of our ego behind us. This is something not everybody can do," he said, referring to the small group music involving just a few instruments and players.

"The Seoul Spring Festival is about meeting new musician friends, musicians who don't push (against each other) because they are really into chamber music ... that's something special about Seoul Spring Festival," said Guyot, who is currently teaching at Seoul National University.

In this photo provided by the organizing committee of the Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music, French clarinetist Romain Guyot laughs during a press conference in Seoul on May 14, 2018 for the festival's 13th edition. (Yonhap)

The festival runs till May 27 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul and Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul. Tickets are currently on sale at major online ticket outlets.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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