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Cellist Chang aims to ‘share’ music by conducting

Dressed in a formal ensemble with her signature short hair, world-renowned cellist Chang Han-na looked more than enthusiastic to share her music for her upcoming musical bash.

“When I played cello, I practiced alone and performed alone. It’s a lonely job,” Chang told reporters during a press conference held at Maiim Vision Village in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, where she and young musicians have been staying for intensive practicing sessions for their upcoming concert, “Cellist Chang Han-na’s Absolute Classic.”

“But as a conductor, I don’t perform with a single instrument but with hearts of many people. Looking back, I think I’ve always wanted a musical family of my own to share the music. And being a conductor allows me to have that.”
Cellist-conductor Chang Han-na speaks during a press conference promoting her third annual musical event, “Cellist Chang Han-na’s Absolute Classic” at Maiim Vision Village in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Seongnam Cultural Foundation)
Cellist-conductor Chang Han-na speaks during a press conference promoting her third annual musical event, “Cellist Chang Han-na’s Absolute Classic” at Maiim Vision Village in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Seongnam Cultural Foundation)

Chang’s third annual musical event, which kicks off on Aug. 13, aims to promote classical music with people who are unfamiliar with the genre, while giving opportunities for young aspiring musicians in Korea to perform and interact under the guidance of Chang.

About 100 young musicians have been selected through a competitive audition process to perform for Chang’s event. Chang, who made her conducting debut in 2007, will be leading an orchestra ― named as the Absolute Classic Festival Orchestra ― comprised only with the young audition winners.

The orchestra is to hold three separate concerts for this third annual musical event, on Aug. 13, Aug. 20 and on Aug. 28 at Seongnam Art Center in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

“For the first two years we’ve concentrated on one or two composers,” Chang told reporters. “But we wanted to celebrate the diversity of classical music this year, featuring many different composers from different countries around the world.”

The theme of the first concert on Aug. 13 is “America and Spain.” “We’ll be playing Rodrigo’s well known piece, “Concierto de Aranjuez.” It’s very Spanish, full of rhythm, color and the folk culture,” Chang told reporters. “Then we’ll end the concert by playing Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.” It’s very hard not to feel the rhythm with your body while listening to this American piece. I expect my audience to dance on the grass while we play this music. It’s an outdoor concert, after all.”

Since Monday, the members of the orchestra and Chang have been staying at Maiim Vision Village in Yeoju ― where the shooting of SBS mega hit TV show “Secret Garden” took place ― to practice for the event. “The enthusiasm has been just amazing,” Chang said. “We practice from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. But the members would volunteer to practice on their own till midnight by themselves.”

Chang, who has been performing abroad extensively since a young age, said she wanted to help young Korean musicians, especially ones who are studying overseas. “I’ve seen so many talented aspiring Korean musicians everywhere around the globe,” Chang said. “I’d like to see them having many musical opportunities even after they return to Korea after studying abroad.”

Chang and Seongnam Cultural Foundation in 2009 made a verbal agreement to hold the event for three consecutive years. If the contract is not extended, the event won’t continue next year. “I certainly hope to continue working with Seongnam,” Chang said. “But I don’t know much about the funding issue with the city and other administrative affairs. My personal goal is to keep working with young Korean musicians in whatever way possible.”

The final piece of the last concert will be Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor op.125. “It carries the very message of this event,” Chang said. “The lyric of the piece, where it says, ‘be embraced, you millions! This kiss for the whole world!’ says it all. Personally, this piece makes one of my most holy musical moments. Music cannot be done alone. It must be shared.”

Guitarist Jang Dae-geon, pianist Cho Seong-jin, as well as Grende Opera Choir will join the Absolute Classic Festival Orchestra. On top of the three concerts, Chang will hold separate sessions to talk with audience members who wish learn about classical music. For more information about the event, call (031) 783-8022.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)
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