Music and the sea

By Korea Herald

Tongyeong International Music Festival opens Friday at brand-new concert hall

  • Published : Mar 23, 2014 - 20:10
  • Updated : Mar 23, 2014 - 20:10
Tongyeong International Music Festival opens Friday at a brand new concert hall that embodies just what this year’s festival is all about ― the sea and great music.

Nestled on a hill overlooking the sea, the Tongyeong Concert Hall mixes the two in a way that the festival’s organizers hope will inspire artists as well as audiences.

“The theme of this year’s festival is ‘seascapes,’” the Tongyeong International Music Festival Foundation said in a press announcement. “It is our hope that the magnificent seascapes of Tongyeong and Tongyeong Concert Hall will offer artistic inspiration to musicians and audience members visiting this year’s festival.” 
Tongyeong Concert Hall, which opened last last year, is the venue for this year’s Tongyeong International Music Festival. (TIMF)

It is also meaningful because the seascapes of Tongyeong greatly influenced Korean composer Isang Yun (1917-1995), it added. Located some 480 kilometers south of Seoul, Tongyeong is known as the “Naples of Korea” for its scenic beauty. The festival started in 2002 to commemorate Yun who was born in the city.

This year’s festival runs from March 28 through April 3, with a total of 16 performances taking place at the concert hall.

The Tongyeong Festival Orchestra will open the festival with a concert at the 1,300-seat main hall on March 28, presenting a program filled with music inspired by the sea, including “Flux,” or “Fluktuationen fur Orchester,” by Yun; Piano Concerto in G major, M. 83, by Ravel; Four sea interludes from Peter Grimes, Op. 33a, by Britten; and “La Mer” by Debussy. The festival’s artistic director Alexander Liebreich will hold the baton and Korean pianist Son Yeol-eum will appear as a soloist.

The orchestra will perform once more on March 29, sharing a bill with mezzo-soprano Vesselina Kasarova, one of the TIMF’s two artists-in-residence for 2014, who will sing arias from Mozart’s operas.

Also on March 28 and 29, an opera will be performed at the 380-seat performance space of the Tongyeong Concert Hall, with both the libretto and music written by Salvatore Sciarrino, one of the two composers-in-residence of the TIMF this year.

“The Killing Flower,” or “Luci Mie Traditrici,” is an opera based on the true story of Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo’s brutal murder of his wife and her lover.

Bang on a Can All-Stars, a New York-based ensemble known for its ultra-dynamic live performances and field recordings, will join the festival with two concerts on March 29 and 30.

Highlights of the rest of the program include a joint concert on April 1 of the two artists-in-residence Kasarova and Korean string ensemble Novus Quartet. The quartet comprised of two violinists, a violist and a cellist will give another concert on April 3.

Two composers-in-residence ― Salvatore Sciarrino and Tigran Mansurian ― will also showcase their music in a concert on March 30.

Newly commissioned works by four Asian composers will get their world premiere on March 31, while five Korean composers will get a chance to present their pieces, played by the National Orchestra of Korea on April 2.

On the sidelines of the official festival, a variety of free performances are will be held at various venues in Tongyeong as part of the Fringe Festival.

For more information, visit www.timf.org.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)