Twenty-seven years ago, fledgling soprano Sumi Jo auditioned in front of the legendary maestro Herbert von Karajan, who called her “the voice from heaven.”
Her career skyrocketed from then on, and Jo won competition after competition, sang on the stages of world-famous opera halls, and collaborated with internationally acclaimed artists and orchestras. The soprano has a huge following in Korea where people have called her the “People’s Soprano.”
Now, Jo is determined to share the love and respect she has received from the Korean public by holding large outdoor concerts with fellow Korean musicians. At “Park Concert: La Fantasia,” to be held on the 88 Green Field of Olympic Park in Seoul on Sept. 14 and 15, the opera diva will be joined by pop idol Yang Yo-seop of boy band BEAST, popera trio Rottini, star violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill, and the Ditto Orchestra led by Adriel Kim. The concert will feature familiar pieces such as Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” and Shostakovich’s “Waltz,” the soundtrack from the “Star Wars” film trilogy, among others.
|Soprano Sumi Jo (center) poses with violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill (left) and BEAST vocalist Yang Yo-seop at the press call for her Park Concert “La Fantasia” in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)|
“All my life I have driven myself all the way to the global top, practicing and training my vocal chords from 8 a.m. every day. But I know that all the fame, money and extravaganza mean nothing if I don’t get to share the love I have received from people,” the singer said at a press conference in downtown Seoul on Tuesday.
Naming “moonlight” as the main theme of her concert, Jo said that the concert would be just like the outdoor concerts at Central Park in New York or the Proms in the Park in London.
“We have even prepared an artificial moon in case we don’t get to see it on the day,” Jo joked. “But I ask for nothing more than for people to visit hand in hand and enjoy Sumi Jo and her friends trying hard to entertain them,” she said.
Jo showed her soft spot for her younger colleagues who will be performing at the concert. Her latest darling is Yang, the lead vocal of BEAST, dubbed “president of elementary schoolers” for his immense popularity among youngsters. Jo handpicked him after watching a video clip of him singing the song, “Mother.”
“Every morning I exercise listening to their music ― it is very important to learn what people are interested in at the moment. At the ‘La Fantasia,’ Yang will perform a duet with me in ‘Man, Love,’ and then he will serenade us with ‘Mother,’” she said.
“I hope that Yo-seop will be able to experience various music genres ― He will one day have to become soloist Yang Yo-seop instead of a boy band member, and when that day comes, he will have to stand on his own, become an artist, which I believe will be no problem for him,” she added.
She expressed affection for O’Neill and the male vocal trio Rottini, saying that they would also be able to have their minds opened and cherish all the possibilities lying in front of them.
Yang, apparently moved by Jo’s remarks, said the concert would be more of a master class.
“I agree sometimes that the so-called idol music can bother the ears. I won’t say I am a classical music lover, but there are moments when such music warms me,” he said. “And I hope people will capture that moment in our performances.”
By Bae Ji-sook