The Korea Herald

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Music for everyone, everywhere

‘In Your Town’ reaches out to underserved regions

By Korea Herald

Published : Jan. 28, 2013 - 19:35

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Korea has emerged as one of the most popular destinations for international musicians, but most concerts are limited to Seoul, the capital city.

An attempt to address the situation is “The House Concert ― In Your Town,” an ambitious project aimed at bringing classical music to people living in remote areas.

On the back of its growing popularity, the project plans to hold 1,000 “cozy” concerts outside Seoul this year.

The first performance of the year took place at a local concert hall in Gimje, North Jeolla Province, on Jan. 24. In the city of less than 93,000, about 170 gathered to listen to the music of Mozart. There was no stage and there were no theater seats ― people sat on the floor of the stage with cushions, literally a few steps away from the players, as they listened to violinist Kim Eung-su and pianist Chae Mun-young. 
“The House Concert-In Your Town” is held in Gimje, North Jeolla Province, on Jan. 24. (The House Concert) “The House Concert-In Your Town” is held in Gimje, North Jeolla Province, on Jan. 24. (The House Concert)

“What we are seeking is the intimacy between the players and the listeners. Concerts do not have to be grand or something very special. We wanted people to live and feel the music,” said Park Chang-soo, the organizer of the concerts. “Also you can enjoy the resonance as well as the littlest vibration of the musical instruments. It’s not something you get to hear very often and you shouldn’t miss it,” he added.

The small-concert relay will take its next performance to Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, in February and more in Jeolla and Gyeongsang provinces.

The highlight will be the “Free Music Festival” in July. Last year, when the project was launched, nearly 9,000 people enjoyed classical, pop, traditional Korean and experimental music performed by 158 musicians in 21 cities nationwide.

The organizers have started negotiating with regional concert halls, of which the managers have given a green light after last year’s unexpected success, said the concert manager Kang Sun-ae.

Park said the project was a win-win strategy for the musicians, concert halls and the audience.

“There are about 400 concert halls in the country and a considerable number of them are outside Seoul, usually left idle due to a lack of programs. There are musicians who studied abroad and have phenomenal careers but need more performance opportunities. There are local residents who are more open and genuinely enjoy music without pretentiousness, craving quality concerts. What we are doing is just linking them together and letting them synergize.”

“The House Concert ― In Your Town” is a sister-project of “The House Concert” launched in 2002 by Park, who renovated his dining room into a small salon for musicians. The small concert, followed by a cozy wine party, is said to be the mother of the modern “salon concerts” in Korea. A total of 330 concerts featuring over 1,300 musicians have been held over the last decade.

This year, the concerts are being held at the Yul Haus in Dogok-dong, southern Seoul, a recording studio where concerts and recordings can be conducted simultaneously.

For more information, visit www.freepiano.net.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)