Violinist Kim Eung-soo (left), cellist Kim Yong-sik (right) and pianist Chae Moon-young rehearse at the House Concert in Yul Haus in southern Seoul on Oct. 14.(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Musicians say they practice harder because of the closeness to their audience
At a small underground recording studio on a rainy day, pianist Park Chang-soo quietly sat checking the program of the 295th House Concert. He has been holding the chamber concerts at a small house since July 2002.
Until the 200th concert, Park held the show at his own house in Yeonhi-dong in Seoul. But with an increasing number of visitors and growing popularity, he decided to move location every few years. Yul Haus, the current venue in southern Seoul, is the fourth place.
“After the House Concert became popular, more than 300 house concerts in Korea using the title ‘house concert’ have mushroomed. But I don’t mind their using the same name because it is meaningful to see house concerts spreading,” Park told The Korea Herald.
“We’re holding the 295th concert today and the 300th concert on Dec. 24 will be a very special gala concert. We’re not going to reveal which artists will perform on that day,” he said.
The House Concert has kept several rules since its launch: For the first 10 years, the ticket price should be fixed at 20,000 won; the annual gala concert should be reserved in advance, without notice of the program or artists; and the audience should sit on the floor, not in chairs.
In July next year, the House Concert will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Then, Park will start transferring operation and planning work to other staff and focus more on being a musician, he said.
Feel the vibe
As violinist Kim Eung-soo, cellist Kim Yong-sik and pianist Chae Moon-young pracised Haydn Piano Trio “Gypsy,” Park demonstrated, leaning on the wooden wall while sitting on the floor was the best way to feel the vibrations of the music.
The feeling created by strings of violin and cello just 2-3 meters away brought out all-over goose bumps ― a rare sensation at bigger concert halls.
Park said that the round studio hall of the Yul Haus is itself another musical instrument.
The studio hall’s floor, walls and the ceiling were all wooden, which made for good acoustics for wooden instruments ― piano, violin and cello.
“There is a world of difference between experiencing the vibration on your body and not. Once you know the feeling, you tend to get addicted to it,” Park said.
Park Chang-soo, pianist, composer and operator of the House Concert, speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at Yul Haus in Seoul on Oct. 14.(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
“I can even say you might not be able to enjoy other concerts.”
Now, many audiences know the secret ― leaning on the wall to enjoy the concert. A staff member of the House Concert said it is hard to take a full-angle picture of both the audience and artists because the audience is all seated leaning on the wall.
After a concert, the audience can enjoy cheese and wine.
Preferred concert venue
During almost 300 concerts, the House Concert brought a variety of musicians from top classical musicians to jazz vocalists to indie bands.
Artists who have performed there include pianist Kim Sun-wook and rock singer-songwriter Kang San-eh. On Nov. 15, Berlin Philharmonic’s principal clarinet Wenzel Fuchs and pianist Kang Ji-eun are to perform together.
According to Park, the House Concert pays half of the revenue from the ticket sales to the artists, but most do not perform there for money.
About 60 people in average visit the House Concert and 203 people were the maximum at Yul Haus.
Violinist Kim, who performed at the 295th House Concert on Oct. 14, said the strongest appeal of the House Concert is that an artist can experience what it is like to “breathe with the audience” during a performance.
“I did a concert here last year, and this is my second time. You can never experience the same thing in any other concert hall in Korea. The show is really intimate,” Kim said.
“I heard there are more people who frequent here than those who come here for the first time.”
Pianist Chae said she likes the idea that both artists and the audience come in to the concert venue and leave there together, as opposed to other concert halls where artists and the audience use different doors.
“I like the idea that we can see the audience really close, just like in the old days in Europe. There are few places where you can perform chamber music in such a good atmosphere in Korea,” Chae said.
The pianist also said that she and her colleagues practiced harder for the House Concert than for other concerts because details of the play can be maximized in the small room.
“Park has such good ears that if we don’t practice a lot, he makes faces at us,” said Chae, giggling.
The House Concert records a live concert into a CD on the artists’ request. The manually-produced CD sells for 10,000 won.
Tickets at the House Concert sell quickly. To make reservations, visit the House Concert’s Website at freepiano.net and check the bulletin board.
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org