“Travis Live in Seoul”: Scottish rock band Travis is returning to Korea with its first solo concert in Seoul in five years. Led by Fran Healy on vocals, Travis first 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 still often credited with having influenced 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.
“Monni Follow My Voice”: Local rock band Monni officially debuted in 2005 with the studio album “The First Day, the Light.” Since then, the band has slowly climbed out of the small-time local club scene to play at some of the country’s most popular summer rock festivals. It has been nearly three years since Monni released a full studio album and the group is finally making its return with its third album, “Follow My Voice.” Monni will be holding a number of solo concerts ahead of the release of the album, including performances at the Yongsan Art Hall in Seoul from April 4-6. The band will then perform in Busan on April 12 and Daegu on April 19 before returning to Seoul and hosting two more shows at Sangsang Madang on April 26-27. For information on ticket prices and reservations, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
|Legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck will perform live at Seoul Olympic Park’s Olympic Hall on April 27. (Jeff Beck Facebook)|
“Jeff Beck”: The legendary English rock guitarist Jeff Beck will be putting on a special solo concert in Seoul this April. Beck was once ranked No. 5 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list and was described as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock.” The 69-year-old has had an illustrious rock ’n’ roll career as a former member of the Yardbirds, playing alongside fellow 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 Seoul Olympic Park’s 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.
“Musashi”: Yukio Ninagawa, a Japanese theater director best known for his Japanese adaptations of Shakespeare plays, is presenting his Japanese Zen comedy-drama “Musashi” in Seoul this week. Written by the late Japanese playwright Hisashi Inoue, the play deals with the legendary 17th-century samurai Musashi Miyamoto and his famous 1612 duel with Kojiro Sasaki, a well-known swordsman. The plot develops as they meet again six years later at a remote Buddhist temple, and Kojiro asks for a rematch. “Musashi” runs from March 21 to 23 at LG Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.
|A scene from “Musashi” (LG Arts Center)|
“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.
“Full House”: The homegrown musical “Full House” is kicking off its first run in April. Based on manga artist Won Soo-yeon’s 1993 hit series of the same name, the musical deals with an unusual romance between a famous actor and a scriptwriter. Won’s manga was made into a popular TV series back in 2004, starring Rain and Song Hye-gyo in the leading roles. “Full House” runs from April 11 to June 8 at Hongik Daehangno Art Center in Hongdae district, Seoul. Tickets range from 55,000 won to 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 744-4350.
“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.
“Ghost the Musical”: The Korean production of “Ghost the Musical” is being performed in Seoul. The show is an adaptation of the mega-hit 1990 romantic fantasy-thriller film “Ghost,” starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, which was also hugely popular in Korea. The musical had its world premiere in Manchester, England, in 2011, and was also performed on Broadway in 2012. The current Korean production is the first in Asia. It tells the story of Molly, a grieving young woman in danger, and the ghost of her murdered boyfriend Sam, who tries to save her with the help of a wacky psychic. The current run stars some of the most popular musical and TV stars in the country, including Joo Won, Ivy and Park Ji-yeon. “Ghost the Musical” runs until June at D-Cube Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, call (02) 557-1987.
“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.
“Wicked”: After playing an unhappy Austrian empress (Elisabeth) and a mysterious, obsessive housekeeper (Rebecca), musical actress Oak Ju-hyun is now playing the famous green-skinned witch in the Broadway musical “Wicked.” The current run, featuring an all-Korean cast, is the first Korean-language version of the musical. It tells the story of two very different witches in the Land of Oz ― the green-skinned, struggling and often-alienated Elphaba, and the beautiful and popular blonde Glinda. The show is a ravishing spectacle and fantasy, mixed with a touching account of the difficulties of youth, life-changing friendship and growing up. “Wicked” is on an open run at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.
“2014 Nonsan Strawberry Festival”: Nonsan will hold an annual strawberry festival from April 2-6 at strawberry farms and other venues throughout the city. One of its highlights is cooking with fresh strawberries picked in Nonsan. Visitors will get a chance to taste a variety of dishes such as strawberry cakes, strawberry jams and “strawberry makgeolli (rice beer).” Strawberry tasting and cooking will take place throughout the festival period. A singing contest, a gugak (Korean folk and classical music) concert and pop song shows will add to the festive mood. For details, visit www.nsfestival.co.kr, or call (041) 746-8388.
|Children pick strawberries at a farm in Nonsan during the strawberry festival in 2013. (Nonsan Strawberry Festivalthe)|
“Sansuyu Flower Festival”: The Mt. Jirisan area becomes a sea of yellow blossoms in March as blooming sansuyu flowers (cornus officinalis) cover the mountain. Some 40 events will be held during the festival. They include a crop fertility ritual and performances of Korean singing, farmers’ music and dances, as well as demonstrations of traditional cultural arts from around the world. Visitors also have a chance to try making sansuyu flower wine and rice cakes. The festival runs from March 22-30 at Mt. Jirisan, Gurye, South Jeolla Province. For more information, call (061) 780-2727 or visit www.sansuyu.go.kr.
“Jinhae Gunhangje Festival”: One of Korea’s largest cherry blossom festivals will be held from April 1-10 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, Mt. 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.
“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 22-30, 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.
“The Republic of Apartments”: The exhibition at Seoul Museum of History takes the audience on a journey through the history of Korean apartment development and looks into the influence of apartments on Koreans’ lifestyles. Contemporary artists present different perspectives on apartments through paintings, photographs and installations depicting lives, memories and even humor associated with living in apartments in Korea. Photographer Ahn Se-kwon’s panoramic image of Wolgok-dong, a northern area in Seoul where new apartments have been built in an old neighborhood, shows two contrasting scenes. The left side shows well-lit newly built apartments while the right side is full of old houses that remain dark. The exhibition continues through May 6 at Seoul Museum of History at 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, visit www.museum.seoul.kr.
|“Domino Apartment” by Kim Eun-suk (Seoul Museum of History)|
“Spectacle in Perspective”: Plateau, Samsung Museum of Art presents a solo exhibition of Jung Yeon-doo, named Artist of the Year in 2007 by the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul. His works deal with the lives of ordinary people. They include families residing in a Seoul apartment complex, middle-aged male fans of K-Pop girl group Crayon Pop and shop clerks at luxury boutiques in Ginza, Tokyo. The artist also presents his interpretation of Auguste Rodin’s monumental sculpture “The Gates of Hell” using an Oculus Rift, an optical device for 3-D visualization. The exhibition runs from March 13 to June 8 at Plateau. The museum is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 1577-7595, or visit www.plateau.or.kr.
“6-8”: Artworks have escaped the spaces and hours of a regular exhibition at ArtSonje Center in Seoul’s Jongno-gu. Artworks are being displayed at unlikely places, like the rear door of the formal exhibition space, a utility room and the rooftop. 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.
“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.
“Shostakovich by Inbal”: Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal will lead Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in its performance of works by Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich 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.
Bang on a Can All-Stars: Renowned for its ultra-dynamic live performances and recordings of today’s most innovative music, the Bang on a Can All-Stars will hold their first performance here at the end of March. Consisting of clarinet, cello, electric guitar, piano-keyboard, percussion and double bass, the New York-based ensemble will stage three performances from March 20-30 at the Tongyeong International Music Festival in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, and on April 2 at LG Arts Center in Seoul. Its repertoire features three works by the group’s founders and artistic directors ― composers David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe ― as well as 10 new creations by the trio and seven other composers. Tickets for the Seoul concert start from 30,000 won and can be purchased at www.lgart.com. For information about the performances at the Tongyeong festival, visit www.timf.org.
|A poster for Bang on a Can All-Stars’ Seoul concert (LG Arts Center)|
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 performing 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.
“The Elixir of Love”: Sol’Opera presents Donizetti’s comic opera “L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love),” with the Rome Opera House. Written in a hasty six weeks, the two-act opera revolves around a young peasant named Nemorino, who, fooled by a con man named Dr. Dulcamara, drinks a fake love potion to try to win Adina, his landowner and the girl of his dreams. One of the most frequently performed operas in the world, the work contains the well-known tenor aria “Una Furtiva Lagrima (A Furtive Tear).” It will run three nights from April 3 at the Opera House of Seoul Arts Center. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 200,000 won.
“Mookhyang”: Fashion designer Jung Kuho’s dance “Mookhyang (Scent of Ink)” is returning for its second run in June. The piece is his second collaboration with the National Dance Company of Korea, a group that specializes in traditional Korean dance. It is inspired by Korean traditional ink painting and pays special attention to the “four noble ones,” the four plants that are believed to epitomize Korea’s Confucian aesthetics: bamboo, the chrysanthemum, the plum blossom and the orchid. The four were praised for their beauty and resilience, and were often painted by artists during the Joseon period. “Mookhyang” runs from June 1 to 7 at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchung-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114 or visit www.ntok.go.kr.
“Altar”: Fashion designer Jung Kuho and the National Dance Company of Korea’s collaboration “Altar” is being restaged in May and June. The dance is choreographed by local artist Ahn Sung-soo, who also choreographed the Korean National Ballet and Jung’s “Poise” last year. Jung is directing the upcoming performance, and is in charge of the stage and costume design, music, hairstyling, makeup and lighting. The piece features the East and the concept of shared and imagined Koreanness. “Altar” will be performed on May 31, June 4 and 6 at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114-6.
“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” (KNCDC)|
“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.