“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. Consisting of clarinet, cello, electric guitar, piano-keyboard, percussion and double bass, the New York-based ensemble will perform on March 29-30 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 at 30,000 won and can be purchased at www.lgart.com. For more information about the performances at the Tongyeong festival, visit www.timf.org.
“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.
“Orchestra Festival”: For the 26th consecutive year, Seoul Arts Center is organizing the “Orchestra Festival,” inviting the nation’s top orchestras to perform at its concert hall. This year, the festival runs for 18 days from April 1, with 18 different orchestras taking the stage. Kicking off the feast of music is the KBS Orchestra led by conductor Yoel Levi, playing the works of Beethoven. Violinist Choi Ye-eun will appear as soloist. On April 9, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will take the stage with Scott Yoo holding the baton. It will present a program of Mendelssohn, Weber and Shostakovich. On April 17, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra will perform, directed by conductor Kim Dae-jin and featuring Russian pianist Boris Giltburg as soloist. Wrapping up the 18 days of music will be Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra and its outgoing conductor Lim Hun-joung, playing a program of Brahms and Korean composer Paik Byung-dong. For tickets, visit www.sac.or.kr or call (02) 580-1300.
|Poster for this year’s “Orchestra Festival,” which will run from April 1-18 at the Seoul Arts Center (Seoul Arts Center)|
“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.
“Monni Follow My Voice”: Local rock band Monni officially debuted as a band in 2005 with its first 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 has released a full studio album and the rock group is finally making its return with its third album “Follow My Voice.” Monni will be holding a number of solo concerts to promote the band’s upcoming 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 the Sangsang Madang from April 26-27. For more information on ticket prices and reservations, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
“Musiq Soulchild Live in Seoul”: American R&B singer-songwriter Musiq Soulchild is slated to perform his second solo concert in Seoul, after serenading a sold-out audience in his first performance in Korea in 2012. Since debuting in 2000 with his first album, “Aijuswanaseing,” the R&B artist has produced a steady slew of hits including “For the Night,” “Love” and “If U Leave.” Musiq Soulchild has won Billboard’s R&B Hip-hop Award four times and been nominated for best male R&B performance at the Grammy Awards 11 times since 2002. Musiq Soulchild’s “Live in Seoul” concert will be held on April 19 at the UNIQLO AX Hall. All tickets are listed at 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
|American R&B artist Musiq Soulchild will perform live at the UNIQLO AX Hall in Seoul on April 19. (Musiq Soulchild Facebook)|
“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” list and was described as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock.” The 69-year-old has had an illustrious rock and roll career as a former member of the Yardbirds, having played alongside 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 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.
“Hyundai Culture Project 14 John Mayer”: The multiple Grammy Award-winning America pop-folk singer John Mayer will be putting on his first concert in Korea since he made his debut more than 10 years ago with the 2001 album “Room for Squares.” 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 others. Mayer will perform on May 6 at the Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul. Ticket prices are priced between 110,000 won and 132,000 won, with a special “couple package” at 300,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
“Swan Lake”: The Korean National Ballet is staging the Tchaikovsky classic “Swan Lake” in April. The famous ballet tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan through an evil sorcerer’s curse. She tries to break the curse with her love interest Prince Siegfried, but fails as the prince gets tricked by Von Rothbart, the sorcerer. The show runs from April 10 to 13 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater. For more information, call (02) 587-6181.
|A promotional image for the Korean National Ballet’s “Swan Lake” (KNB)|
“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 Era. “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, hair, makeup and lighting. The piece explores the concepts of “the East” and 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.
“Full Moon” by Pina Bausch: It’s been almost five years since the death of legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch, 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 28-31 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.
“Bonnie & Clyde”: The Broadway musical “Bonnie & Clyde” is being staged in Seoul for the second time. The musical features the infamous love story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the well-known robbers who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression. The show had its Broadway premiere in 2011 and was nominated for two Tony awards in 2012. “Bonnie & Clyde” runs from April 15 to June 29 at BBC Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call 1588-0688.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Liquid Times”: The Seoul Museum of Art is presenting a group exhibition of contemporary Korean and Chinese artists as part of an exchange program with Sonzhuang Art Center and White Box Museum of Art in Beijing. The exhibition covers a variety of contemporary art practices from photography to installations to media art. Borrowing its name from Zygmunt Bauman’s popular book “Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty,” the exhibition reflects on the anxiety and confusion prevalent in today’s society. The works on display include staged gravity-defying photographs by Beijing-based photographer and performance artist Li Wei; a collection of money and baskets that artist Lee Won-ho bought from beggars in Seoul; and a wooden house installation and a video taken by Chinese artist Song Dong while riding a bicycle in Beijing. The exhibition runs through May 11 at the Seoul Museum of Art. For more information, visit sema.seoul.go.kr.
|“29 Levels of Freedom” by Li Wei (SeMA)|
“The Republic of Apartments”: This exhibition at the 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, unlit houses. The exhibition continues through May 6 at the Seoul Museum of History at 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, visit www.museum.seoul.kr.
“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. These 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.
“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.
“Ulsan Whale Festival”: Ulsan, the southern coastal industrial city known for being a habitat of migratory whales, will celebrate its 20th whale festival from April 24-27 in the city’s special whale district and along the Taehwagang River. The four-day event commemorates the whaling heritage of Ulsan. Whaling is banned for environmental reasons. Festivalgoers will be offered a look into the history and tradition of whaling at the Ulsan Whale Museum. The festival will include night cruises along the coast, parades and dance performances. For more information, visit www.ulsanwhale.com (English available).
|Performers reenact traditional whaling during last year’s Ulsan Whale Festival. (Ulsan Whale Festival)|
“2014 Nonsan Strawberry Festival”: Nonsan will hold its 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 shows will add to the festive mood. For details, visit www.nsfestival.co.kr, or call (041) 746-8388.
“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.