Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI: Early-music heavyweight Jordi Savall will bring his Hesperion XXI ensemble to Korea for a concert titled “Orient & Occident.” He will play music composed in the Mediterranean area from the 13th to 18th centuries as part of his efforts to bridge the gap between the Islamic Arab region and Christian Europe through music. The Hesperion XXI, an ensemble Savall put together, will feature three players of traditional Arab instruments. Savall himself will play the rebab, a traditional string instrument used in Arab countries. The concert will be held on April 29 at LG Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets start from 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114.
“La Traviata”: The Korea National Opera is staging Verdi’s opera “La Traviata” for four nights from April 24 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. Directed by Arnaud Bernard, a young and promising opera director from France, the production deals with societal violence ― both physical and mental ― through the tragic love story of Alfredo and Violetta, a sick prostitute. Sopranos Joyce El-Khoury and Lyubov Petrova will play Violetta, while tenors Kang Yosep and Ivan Magri will share the role of Alfredo. The music will be conducted by Patrick Lange. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 586-5363.
“Little Prince”: Seoul Arts Center is presenting the opera “Little Prince” at its 1,000-seat CJ Towol Theater from April 27 through May 3. It is an operatic adaption of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous novel of the same name. The opera premiered in the U.S. in 2003 to both critical and public acclaim. With its music by Rachel Portman and libretto by Nicholas Wright, the two-act opera was a hit in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere. The upcoming production by Seoul Arts Center is its Korean premiere. It will be performed in English, with Korean subtitles. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300.
|A scene from opera “Little Prince” (Seoul Arts Center)|
Japanese orchestras: The New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra will hold concerts in Seoul on May 29 and June 1, respectively. The New Japan Philharmonic will perform works by Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and others, with Pascal Rophe holding the baton. Korean pianist Lim Dong-min will join as a soloist. Prior to the concert at Seoul Arts Center, it will hold concerts in Busan and Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on May 27 and 28, respectively. For more information call (02) 599-5743. NHK Symphony, led by conductor Junichi Hirokami, will present works by Prokofiev and Mahler, with Korean pianist Son Yeol-eum and soprano Rosa Feola. The concert will also be staged at Seoul Arts Center. Tickets are priced from 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 6303-1977.Dance
“Nacho Duato ― Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness”: Korea’s Universal Ballet Company is staging Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato’s piece “Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness” for the first time in Korea. The company is the first Korean troupe to perform the dance. Featuring well-known Baroque compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, including excerpts from the “Brandenburg” Concertos, concertos for organ, and sonatas for cello and violin, the piece aims to deliver the emotional essence of his music, as well as the important moments of the legendary composer’s life. The show runs from April 25 to 27 at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114.
|A scene from “Nacho Duato - Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness” (UBC)|
“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 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 1-7 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 explores the concepts of “the East” and of shared and imagined Koreanness. “Altar” will be performed on May 31, June 4 and June 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.Pop music
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 band 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 a member of the Yardbirds. Beck will be performing 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 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 made his official debut in 2001 with his first album “Room for Squares” that 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 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 Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul. Ticket prices are listed between 110,000 won and 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.
|John Mayer (John Mayer Facebook)|
“Paul McCartney: Out There”: Paul McCartney, former front man of the world’s most iconic music act the Beatles, will be holding his first concert in Korea in May. The show is part of his “Out There” world tour that began in Brazil last year and is hitting up major cities all across the globe. McCartney is slated to perform tracks from his latest solo album “New” as well as popular songs from his Beatles days. The legendary rock star is considered one of the most successful songwriters in history and composed many of the Beatles’ hit songs such as “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday” and “Let it Be.” As part of Hyundai Card’s “Super Concert” series, McCartney will perform live on May 28 at Seoul’s Jamsil Stadium. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 55,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com
“Monni Rock Concert Vol. 3”: 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 released a full studio album, and the rock group is finally making its return with its third album “Follow My Voice.” Monni will put on a concert at the Gunpo Art Center in Gyeonggi-do on June 29. For more information on ticket prices and reservations, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.Theater
“A Piece on Mother and Fatherland”: Polish theater director Jan Klata’s play “A Piece on Mother and Fatherland” is being performed by a Polish cast in Seoul. The play, which premiered at Teatr Polski we Wroclawiu in 2011, was performed in Russia, Switzerland, Japan and Croatia before arriving in Korea. It deals with a holocaust survivor’s difficult relationship with her daughter, who wants to distance herself from her mother’s traumatic past. The play will be held on May 16 and 17 at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-1004.
|A scene from “A Piece on Mother and Fatherland” (LG Arts Center)|
“Ophelia”: Local musical “Ophelia,” an interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” will be staged in Seoul in May. Ophelia is a fictional character in “Hamlet.” She’s a young aristocrat whose father is killed by her love interest, Hamlet, and eventually goes mad. The upcoming musical is centered on Ophelia, rather than Hamlet ― the protagonist in the original Shakespeare play. Composer Choi Woo-jeong, screenwriter and former Culture Minister Kim Myung-gon, and contemporary dancer Cha Jin-yup participated in the project. “Ophelia” runs from May 16-25 at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 515-0405.
“Bonnie & Clyde”: The Broadway musical “Bonnie & Clyde” is being staged in Seoul for the second time. The musical tells the infamous story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the well-known robbers who roamed 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 local 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. In 2004, Won’s manga was made into a popular TV series starring Rain and Song Hye-gyo. “Full House” runs from April 11 to June 8 at Hongik Daehangno Art Center in the Hongdae area of Seoul. Tickets range from 55,000 won to 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 744-4350.
“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 to 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 opened on March 20 and will continue until 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.
“Ghost the Musical”: The Korean production of “Ghost the Musical” is being performed in Seoul. The show is an adaptation of the megahit 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.Festivals
Taean Flower Festival: The annual flower festival, organized by flower farms in Taean, will run through May 18. A variety of flowers including tulips, lilies and marigolds are in full bloom on the vast field of Nature World. The flower festival started as an effort to tackle the financial difficulties facing the fishing and farming town after an oil spill contaminated its coastal waters and seashore in 2007. The festival offers experience programs such as aroma candle and craft making sessions. Other activities include archery and Korean seesaw. For more information, visit www.ffestival.co.kr or call (041) 675-7881.
|Tulips on display at the Taean Flower Festival (Yonhap)|
International Horticulture Goyang Korea 2014: One of Korea’s largest flower events will be held until May 11 at Lake Park in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province. The annual horticultural event invites more than 120 horticultural companies from 35 countries to exhibit flower displays. Flower displays by top florists are also on view. The outdoor garden exhibits themed flower displays made with more than 100,000 flowers of 80 different varieties. Visitors are invited to take photos at the flower studio installed in the outdoor garden. A variety of hands-on programs are also available, including making flower photo games, floral and herbal teas, and soap using flowers. On-site admission is 9,000 won for adults. Admission for a group of more than 10 foreign visitors is 6,000 won each. For more information, visit www.flower.or.kr or call (031) 908-7750.
The Garden of Morning Calm Spring Flower Festival: The Garden of Morning Calm boasts more than 5,000 plant and flower species. During the spring, there is a veritable parade of flowering trees and flowers in full bloom. More than 60,000 tulips adorn the themed gardens inside the arboretum and 200 kinds of flowers are on display along with 100 kinds of plants. The spring flower festival runs through May 25 at the Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province. For more information, visit www.morningcalm.co.kr or call 1544-6703.Exhibitions
“This is a Landscape of Desire”: The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is exhibiting works by Danish media artist Jesper Just until Aug. 3. Just gained international fame after representing the Danish pavilion as a media artist at the Venice Biennale last year. His first Seoul exhibition will feature 13 works from his decadelong artistic career. His works consist of two scenes showing different perspectives of each protagonist. Scenes on two screens hung on opposite walls are mysterious. For more information, call (02) 2188-6000 or visit www.mmca.go.kr.
|A combination of stills from “This Nameless Spectacle” by Jesper Just (MMCA)|
“Then and Now”: The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is holding an exhibition for the 60th anniversary of the National Academy of Arts at Deoksugung Palace Museum until July 27. The exhibition showcases 79 artworks by 35 late members and 22 current members of the respected art institution. The works on display include paintings, sculptures and crafts made by renowned artists who have played pioneering roles in Korean modern and contemporary art. For more information, visit www.mmca.go.kr.
“Shirin Neshat”: A retrospective on Iranian-born media artist Shirin Neshat covering 20 years of her works is showing at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The exhibition showcases the two photographic series “Women of Allah” and “The Book of Kings,” a black-and-white video trilogy ― “Turbulent,” “Rapture” and “Fervor” ― and the award-winning film “Women without Men.” Using visual metaphors and compelling sounds, Neshat confronts the complexities of identity, gender and power to express a vision that embraces the Islamic tradition and Western concepts of individuality and liberty. The exhibition runs through July 13 at the Seoul branch of the MMCA. For more information, call (02) 3701-9500 or visit www.mmca.go.kr.
“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.