When it comes to classical music festivals, Seoul has little to brag about. But efforts to better serve the city’s young and growing classical music fan base led to the launch of an international festival in 2009, and it is showing more promise year after year.
Seoul International Music Festival, in its fifth year now, opens Wednesday with a nine-concert program highlighting Italian music and a contemporary composer from Russia.
“This year’s festival, set for May 7-29, brings here some of the finest of Italian musicians, joining in celebrations of the 130th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Italy,” the SIMF organizing body said in a press statement.
Among them are Italian violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi and his period-instrument ensemble Europa Galante, opening the festival with a concert at Seoul Arts Center on Wednesday night.
|This year’s Seoul International Music Festival presents nine concerts, bringing together some of the finens of today. Italian period-instrument ensemble Europa Galante (SIMF)|
|From left: Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina, Italian violinist Salvatore Accardo and Korean pianist Lim Dong-min. (SIMF)|
The ensemble, famous for its performances of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, will present an all-Vivaldi program, including some famous violin concertos such as “Four Seasons” and “La Extravaganza.”
On May 18, another great Italian violinist will take the stage of Seoul Arts Center: Salvatore Accardo. A known Paganini specialist, he will be performing compositions of Franck, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Bloch and Paganini at the Seoul concert.
Accardo, 73, gave his first recital at age 13 with music of 18th-century Italian violinist and composer Paganini, won the top prize at the 1958 Paganini Competition in Genoa and became the first violinist to record all six violin concertos by Paganini.
Since its inauguration, the SIMF has featured one composer each year through special concerts and various other events, starting with Polish legend Krzysztof Penderecki in 2009.
This year, the festival has chosen Sofia Gubaidulina, who is widely regarded as the most important Russian composer since Shostakovich. Her most famous works include the violin concerto “Offertorium,” written for the famed Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer.
During the festival, Gubaidulina will meet students, professional musicians and fans through a lecture and two concerts scheduled on May 23 and May 26. Her latest work ― concerto for cello and orchestra “Two Paths” ― will get a world premiere at a Seoul Arts Center concert on May 26.
Wrapping up the festival will be the New Japan Philharmonic performing works by Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, with Pascal Rophe holding the baton. Korean pianist Lim Dong-min will join as soloist in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
For more information, visit simfkorea.org or call (02) 585-0137.
By Lee Sun-young (email@example.com)