London Symphony Orchestra: For the ninth time, the London Symphony Orchestra will be playing in Korea, this time with conductor Daniel Harding. It will hold two concerts at Seoul Arts Center, on March 10 and 11. The first concert will feature works by Mussorgsky, Stravinsky and Schubert. For the second one, the orchestra will play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with soloist Kim Sun-wook, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” Ticket prices range from 60,000 won to 300,000 won. For more information, call (02) 599-5743.
Il Giardino Armonico: Italian ensemble Il Giardino Armonico will present their interpretations of baroque-period music, including the works of their countryman Antonio Vivaldi. Recorder soloist-and-conductor Giovanni Antonini will lead the group. The program includes Vivaldi’s “La Follia” sonata for two violins and basso continuo in D minor, and concertos by George Frideric Handel and Georg Philipp Telemann. The concert will be held on March 12 at Seongnam Arts Center, located near Exit 1 of Imae Station on the Bundang Line of the Seoul Subway. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 100,000 won. Call (031) 783-8000 or visit www.snart.or.kr.
“Don Giovanni”: The Korea National Opera is staging Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s classic opera “Don Giovanni” at Seoul Arts Center for a five-day run beginning March 12. Revolving around the salacious adventures of the Spanish nobleman and libertine of the same name, the opera is the second of a trilogy Mozart wrote with Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. Directed by Jung Sun-young and conducted by Marco Zambelli, the production features baritones Gong Byung-woo and Cha Jeong-cheol as Don Giovanni and sopranos Noh Jung-ae and Hong Ju-young as Donna Anna. It will be staged at the 1,000-seat CJ Towol Theater. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300.
|A poster for the opera “Don Giovanni” (National Opera Company of Korea)|
“Shostakovich by Inbal”: Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal will lead Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in its performance of Russian composer Dimitry Shostakovich’ works at Seoul Arts Center on March 28. The program consists of Swiss composer Ernest Bloch’s “Schelomo,” better known as “Hebrew Rhapsody,” featuring Korean-German cellist Isang Enders as a soloist and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 in G minor. Ticket prices range from 10,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call 1588-1210.
“Evgeny Kissin Recital”: Child prodigy-turned-master pianist Evgeny Kissin will perform at Seoul Arts Center on March 30, presenting Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Major, Scriabin’s Sonata No. 2 in G Sharp Minor and “Four Sea Interludes” from Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes.” The pianist started his professional musical training at 6, entering the Gnessin State Musical College for Gifted Children, made his debut featuring Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor with the Ulyanovsk Symphony Orchestra, and became an international sensation at 12 when he played and recorded Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Kissin is also famous for obliging concertgoers, with his 2006 and 2008 concerts going on until after 11 p.m. because of dozens of encore performances. For more information, call 1544-1555 or (02) 580-1300.Pop music
Travis: Scottish rock band Travis is making its return to Korea, putting on its first solo concert in Seoul in five years. Led by Fran Healy on vocals, Travis formed in the early ’90s in Glasgow and made a name for itself as one of the most well-respected acts from the U.K. Although Travis has always seemed to float below the radar, without having joined the ranks of the most iconic rock bands, the rockers are often credited with having influenced iconic British bands such as Coldplay and Keane. Travis will perform its upcoming solo concert at the Olympic Hall at Seoul Olympic Park on March 25. Tickets range from 70,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
|Travis will perform its first solo concert in Korea in the Olympic Hall at Seoul Olympic Park on March 25. (Travis Facebook)|
The Hives: Popular Swedish rock band The Hives, credited for being a driving force in reintroducing garage rock to the 21st century music scene, will perform a live concert for the first time in Korea this April. The Hives was first formed more than 20 years ago. Three years after putting out their demo album “Sounds Like Sushi,” they released their debut studio album “Barely Legal.” The Hives made little to no impact with their first album. However, that all changed with the band’s follow-up album. In 2000, The Hives released their second album, “Veni Vidi Vicious,” featuring the hit tracks “Hate to Say I Told You So” and “Main Offender” and landed themselves a record deal that launched them into the mainstream limelight. The Hives will perform live at the Uniqlo AX Hall in Seoul on April 2 with tickets listed at 66,000. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
Jeff Beck: The legendary English rock guitarist Jeff Beck will be putting on a special solo concert performance in Seoul this April. Beck was once ranked No. 5 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and was described as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock.” The 69-year-old has had one of the most illustrious rock and roll careers as a former member of the Yardbirds playing alongside other rock legends Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page and has landed himself in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, both as a solo artist and as a member of the Yardbirds. Beck will be performing live at the Olympic Hall on April 27. Tickets range from 88,000 won to 154,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
John Mayer: The multiple Grammy Award-winning U.S. pop-folk singer John Mayer will be putting on his first concert in Korea since he made his musical debut more than 10 years ago. Mayer released his first album, “Room for Squares,” in 2011. It featured a number of hit singles including “No Such Thing,” “Why Georgia” and “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” which snagged Mayer his first Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2003. The upcoming concert event is the 14th installment of the Hyundai Card Culture Project series, which in the past brought acts such as The Killers, Keane, John Legend, Ke$ha, Jason Mraz and many other. Mayer will perform on May 6 at the Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul. Tickets are priced from 110,000 won to 132,000 won, with a special “couple package” listed at 300,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.Exhibitions
“Eliminate Points, Lines and Planes”: Artist Kim In-bai is presenting faceless, abstract sculptures for his solo exhibition celebrating the reopening of Arario Gallery Seoul. Titled “Eliminate Points, Lines and Planes,” the exhibition seeks to break stereotypes about human figures. Instead of faces or heads for his sculptures, the artist has used geometrical forms. His latest works are a combination of geometrical forms and muscular body structures. The exhibition runs until April 13 at Arario Gallery Seoul in Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 541-5701.
|“Pin Hue” by Kim In-bai (Arario Gallery)|
“Kang Yo-bae Drawings: 1985-2014”: Drawings and sketches by Jejudo Island-based artist Kang Yo-bae are being showcased at Hakgojae Gallery until March 30. The art works that he has created in conte, charcoal and pastel over the past 30 years portray the landscape of Jejudo Island in rough texture. Kang has largely depicted the distinctive characteristics of the island, such as its fickle weather, clear seasonal changes and varying sea colors. The gallery is in Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 720-1524~6.
“6-8”: Artworks have escaped the spaces and hours of a regular exhibition at ArtSonje Center in Seoul’s Jongno-gu. At unlikely places, like the rear door of the formal exhibition space, a utility room and the rooftop, installation artworks are being displayed from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Finding the artworks feels like going on a treasure hunt as they are placed in inconspicuous spots, and a museum map guides viewers to each of their locations. If you don’t concentrate on the map, you might miss some of them. The exhibition is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. until March 29. It is closed on Mondays. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 733-8945, or visit www.artsonje.org.
“Julian Opie”: Kukje Gallery is presenting a solo exhibition of Julian Opie featuring some of his new works portraying the lifestyles of pedestrians in Seoul. The new works, results of his observations of people walking by on the streets of the capital city, showcase his signature style of depicting people in bold colors and outlining them prominently in black. The works on display are paintings, sculptures and pieces made using light-emitting diodes. The exhibition is running from Feb. 13 to March 23 at Kukje Gallery in Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 735-8449.
“Park Soo-keun Retrospective”: As Park Soo-keun would have turned 100 this year, a retrospective seeks to revive public interest in the master painter. The exhibition is being held at the Gana Insa Art Center in Insa-dong, a major Seoul tourist destination lined with antique shops, from Jan. 17 to March 16. The retrospective will feature about 120 works by Park, including 90 oil paintings, watercolor paintings and 30 sketches on loan from private collectors. Its focus is on unveiling works of his that haven’t been shown in previous exhibitions. For more information, call (02) 720-1020, or visit www.ganaart.com.Festivals
“Jinhae Gunhangje Festival”: One of Korea’s largest cherry blossom festivals will be held from April 1 to 10 in Jinhae, home to the Korean Navy base. Cherry trees covered with beautiful pink and white blossoms will grace streets, parks and mountains in the city. Gorgeous blossoms will line the road from the Naval Academy to the Naval Base Command. Other cherry blossom sites include the 5.7 km-long Anmin Road, Mount Jaehwangsan and Yeojwacheon Romance Bridge. The bridge road was once selected as one of the 100 most beautiful roads in Korea. The festival is held throughout Jinhae. For more information, visit http://gunhang.changwon.go.kr, or call (055) 225-2341.
|Visitors gaze at cherry blossoms in the garden of the Korean Navy Command during the 2013 Jinhae Gunhangje Festival. (Yonhap)|
“Gwangyang International Maehwa Festival”: This festival welcomes spring each year with apricot blossoms in Gwangyang, a southwestern city famous for its many apricot trees. The festival, running from March 22 to 30, will take place in different venues in the city in South Jeolla Province. Visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of events amid the apricot blossoms such as a photography contest and concerts. Local dishes cooked with Gwangyang apricots will be introduced at an apricot food contest. For more information, visit www.gwangyang.go.kr/gymaehwa.
“Yangpyeong Strawberry Festival”: Visitors are invited to pick as many strawberries as their baskets can hold at more than 10 strawberry farms in Yangpyeong, northern Gyeonggi Province. The strawberry festival, to be held from Feb. 25 to May 31, also offers diverse strawberry foods such as strawberry rice cakes, sauce and jams. Those wishing to participate in the festival can choose a strawberry farm and book their trip at the chosen farm in advance online at festival.ypnadri.com. A single trip to a strawberry farm costs 26,000 won. Participants can spend about five hours at the farm picking strawberries and trying out various foods made with strawberries. For more information, call (031) 774-5427, 5431.Dance
“Bul-Ssang”: The Korea National Contemporary Dance Company is opening its 2014 season with “Bul-Ssang,” a 2009 piece choreographed by the troupe’s artistic director Ahn Ae-soon. The dance is known for its use of pop art Buddha statues and choreography that combines traditional dance and martial arts from different Asian countries including China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia. The dance is known for its exploration of Asian traditions and their conflict with modernity and the West, with a lot of humor and twists in the choreography. It is one of the most famous pieces created by Ahn, who was appointed the troupe’s head last year. “Bul-Ssang” runs from March 21-22 at Seoul Arts Center’s CJ Towol Theater in Seocho-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, visit www.kncdc.kr.
|A scene from “Bul-Ssang” (KCNDC)|
“Kiss & Cry”: Belgian choreographer Michele Anne De Mey and filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael’s unique collaboration “Kiss & Cry” is having its Seoul premiere in March. The piece is an emotional account of an old woman reminiscing about the five greatest loves of her life, including the first one. As the show begins, viewers see two dancers onstage, whose hands are “dancing” around miniature stage sets. On the screen, viewers will see a film in real time, with the hands as the main characters ― the old woman’s younger self and her lovers from the past. A Korean-language narration will be played throughout the piece, which was specially recorded in advance by popular actor Yoo Ji-tae for the Seoul run. “Kiss & Cry” runs from March 6 to 9 at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114.
“La Bayadere”: The Korean National Ballet is presenting “La Bayadere,” an 1877 piece choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. Set in India, the ballet first features a passionate romance between temple dancer Nikiya and young warrior Solor. It eventually turns into a tragedy as the High Brahmin, who has fallen for Nikiya, and Gamzatthi, the ruler’s daughter, herself desperate to marry Solor, make plans to break them apart. “La Bayadere” is the first performance the troupe is presenting after welcoming its new artistic director and famed ballerina Kang Sue-jin. “La Bayadere” will run from March 13-16 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181 or 1566-1369.
“Full Moon” by Pina Bausch: It’s been almost five years since Germany’s legendary choreographer Pina Bausch died, but her works are still as popular as ever. Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal is returning to Seoul this year with her 2006 work “Vollmond (Full Moon).” The troupe last performed in Korea in 2010. The dance is well known for using a giant rock and deep water that take up a large part of the stage, while its themes include the celebration of life as well as its dangers and joys. “Full Moon” runs from March 28 to 31 at LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, visit www.lgart.com.Theater
“Are You OK?”: Local troupe Gori’s 2012 play “Are You OK?” is back for its second run. The play tells the story of Sook, a migrant worker from Southeast Asia living in a rural town in Korea, and her struggles to adjust to the new surroundings. Themes of prejudice and discrimination are explored in the play, which is set in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and their business. “Are You OK?” is being staged until April 6 at Daehangno Studio 76 in Hyehwa-dong, Seoul. For more information, call 1599-7813.
“Seopyeonje”: A musical adaptation of late author Lee Cheong-jun’s celebrated novel of the same title, “Seopyeonje” is back for another run in Seoul. The musical tells the poignant tale of pansori singers trying to make a living in the modern world by performing their traditional vocal and percussion music. The show debuted in 2011 with much acclaim, winning five prizes at the 2011 The Musical Awards. Popular pansori singer Lee Ja-ram and musical actress Cha Ji-yeon share the lead role of Song-hwa, while Korean-American actor Michael Lee and actor Song Yong-jin star as Dong-ho, Song-hwa’s love interest. The show will run from March 20 to May 11 at Universal Art Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 110,000 won. For tickets and information, call 1577-3363.
|A scene from “Seopyeonje” (Onel Company)|
“Sheer Madness”: The Korean adaptation of the popular German play “Sheer Madness” is back for its second run in Seoul. Premiered in 1963, the play takes place in a hair salon owned by a gay hairdresser named George. After he and his flirty assistant Suji welcome two customers, one a wealthy housewife and other an antiques dealer, the landlady of the shop is murdered upstairs. The audience is asked to participate in solving the case, helping to figure out who the murderer is among the four in the salon. “Sheer Madness” is currently on an open run at Daehangno Culture Space Feeling 2 in Hyehwa-dong, Seoul. Tickets cost 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 744-4334.
“Still Life (Jeongmulhwa)”: Award-winning Japanese playwright of Korean descent Miri Yu’s early work “Still Life” will be performed in the Korean language in Seoul this month. The play revolves around five high school girls who form a literary club to share their thoughts about life, writing and friendship. One of the girls, Nanako, constantly thinks about the meaning of death and the afterlife. Yu wrote the play when she was in her early 20s and directed the stage production herself. “Still Life” runs from Feb. 14 to March 16 at Daehangno Arts Theater in Hyehwa-dong, Seoul. Tickets cost 25,000 won. For more information, call (02) 764-7462.