Seoul Jazz Festival 2014: Every year the annual two-day Seoul Jazz Festival features a wide variety of musical acts, from legendary jazz musicians to popular contemporary figures. This year’s headline artists include Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice, jazz-pop musician Jamie Cullum, jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri, the Jack DeJohnette Trio and R&B soloist Eric Benet as well as local bands Jang Kiha and the Faces and Urban Zakapa. The 2014 Seoul Jazz Festival will be held at Seoul Olympic Park on May 17 and 18. Ticket prices range from 99,000 won to 244,500 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
|Damien Rice (Damien Rice Facebook)|
“Paul McCartney: Out There”: Paul McCartney, a member 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 major cities 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 55,000 won to 300,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
Ultra Korea Music Festival: The annual Ultra Music Festival, one of the world’s largest outdoor electronica music fests, will be in full swing in Seoul once again. Last summer’s event drew more than 80,000 EDM fans. And like last year, this year’s lineup will include a handful of world famous DJ acts including Steve Aoki, Above & Beyond, Steve Angello and Paul Vanduk. The festival will be held on June 13 and 14 at Seoul Olympic Park’s Olympic Stadium Complex. Tickets are listed at 130,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
Monni Rock Concert Vol. 3: Local rock band Monni 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 put on a concert at the Gunpo Art Center in Gyeonggi Province on June 29. For more information on ticket prices and reservations, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
“A Dream I Dreamed”: Major works by celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are on exhibit at Seoul Arts Center. The exhibition showcases about 120 works, including new pieces such as a room and a tulip installation covered in colorful polka dots. Her signature yellow “Pumpkin” sculpture and paintings are also on display. The exhibition, which started at Daegu Art Museum last year, will travel to China, Macau, Taiwan and India after the Seoul exhibition. Seoul Arts Center recommends booking in advance to avoid waiting in line. Reservations are available online at www.interpark.com. The museum also provides free admission for children accompanied by guardians on Mondays until the end of May. Up to two children per adult are granted free admission. For more information, call (02) 580-13000.
|“Pumpkin” by Yayoi Kusama (Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts)|
Bernar Venet: The French artist Bernar Venet is holding a solo exhibition at Gallery Hyundai in Seoul. On display is his latest series of works, “GRIB,” consisting of sculptures and paintings featuring spontaneous lines. The works are based on scribbles the artist drew on pieces of paper. The lines were originally inspired by mathematical graphs, which were later simplified into straight lines, half circles, arcs and broken arcs. The exhibition runs through June 15 at Gallery Hyundai at Samcheongno 14, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 2287-3500.
“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.
“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.
“ARTSPECTRUM”: Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is holding its biennial exhibition ARTSPECTRUM. The exhibition features 10 emerging artists selected by the museum curators and art experts in light of their artistic potential and the fresh input they are expected to bring to the Korean art world. The artists are showcasing artworks in diverse media including painting, sculpture, installation and performance. Scientist and artist Song Ho-jun’s satellite launch project consists of installations and quizzes for the audience. Lee Wan discusses his quest to trace the origins of products such as sugar, a jacket and rice through a video work. The exhibition runs through June 28. For more information, visit www.leeum.org.
Everland Rose Festival: A variety of roses are in full bloom at Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. The amusement park displays 676 kinds of roses, including rare types such as Garden Party, John F. Kennedy, Moon Shadow and Casanova, during its annual rose festival which will last until June 15. The outdoor theater, Jungfrau, will play animated films by Studio Ghibli every day at 7:30 p.m. until June 8. The films include “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” For more information, visit, www.everland.com.
Gangneung Danoje Festival: Gangneung celebrates a shamanistic ritual of the Joseon era during the Danoje Festival from May 31 to June 6. The festival, designated a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage” by UNESCO in 2005, invites visitors to participate in traditional rituals such as wrestling, tug-of-war and washing one’s hair in iris-infused water. For more information, call (033) 641-1593 at Dongbo Travel or visit www.danojefestival.or.kr.
Gokseong International Rose Festival: The “Thousands of International Roses” festival has been canceled in the wake of the ferry sinking off the southern coast of Korea on April 16, but the rose park in Gokseong-gun, South Jeolla Province, where it was to take place will open to the general public as scheduled from May 23 to June 1. Thousands of roses will be in bloom from mid-May. Visitors to the park will see a variety of roses from around the world.
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.
Savatore Accardo recital: On May 18, Italian violinist Savatore Accardo will perform at Seoul Arts Center, playing works by Franck, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Bloch and Paganini. A known Paganini specialist, the 73-year-old musician gave his first recital at age 13 with works by the 18th-century Italian violinist and composer, won the top prize at the 1958 Paganini Competition in Genoa and became the first violinist to record all six violin concertos by Paganini. The concert is one of the nine programs of the 5th Seoul International Music Festival, currently underway at various venues in Seoul.
Ahn Trio recital: The three Ahn sisters ― Maria, Lucia and Angella Ahn ― known as the Ahn Trio, will hold their first concert in Korea in seven years. The classical trio will present a program titled “Ahn-core, Ahn Trio,” which the sisters say is “basically a program of our favorite pieces.” It is a mix of modern classical music, tango and rock. They have invited Korean B-boys to perform alongside them. The Ahn Trio concert will start at 2 p.m. on May 18 at Seoul Arts Center. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call 1577-5266 or visit www.clubbalcony.com.
“Der Freischutz”: Seoul Metropolitan Opera is presenting the German opera “Der Freischutz (The Free-Shooter)” for four nights starting May 21 at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts, central Seoul. The three-act opera, with music by Carl Maria von Weber and libretto by Friedrich Kind, is considered one of the most important German operas for its use of German folk legends and music and chilling portrayal of the supernatural. Set in Bohemia at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, it tells the story of a young forester, Max, who, driven to desperation with fear of losing his love, Agathe, sells his soul to the devil for seven magic bullets which are destined to hit their marks. Tenors Yoon Byung-gil and Choi Young-ho share the role of Max, singing opposite sopranos Shon Hyun-kyung and Jung Ju-hee as Agathe. Bass Jun Seung-hyun, a.k.a. Attila Jun, will appear as an aged hermit in the forest in all four performances. Jun was awarded title “Kammersanger” in 2011, which the German government bestows on outstanding classical singers. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 120,000 won. For details, call (02) 399-1786.
|Poster for opera “Der Freischütz” (Seoul Metropolitan Opera)|
Ivry Gitlis recital: Legendary violinist Ivry Gitlis will perform at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul on May 25. At 92, the Israeli musician is the oldest performing violinist in the world. At the Seoul concert, which will be recorded live by Sound Mirror Korea, he will perform works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Paganini. Tickets cost 50,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.
Two 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.
“Miss France” : Popular TV and film actress Kim Sung-ryung is returning to the stage after seven years, starring in “Miss France,” a Korean adaptation of the French comic play “Jamais 2 Sans 2.” She appears as Fleur de Senlis, the president of a local pageant committee in France and a former contest winner. The character loses the ability to speak after learning that the winner of last year’s pageant posed nude for an obscene magazine. “Miss France” runs from May 15 to July 13 at Seoul Daehangno Soohyunjae Theater. All tickets cost 50,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.
|A promotional image of “Miss France” (Soohyunjae)|
“Princess Deokhye”: A musical on the life of Deokhye (1912-1989), the last princess of the Joseon era, is being staged in Seoul. Born in 1912, after Joseon was annexed by Japan, Deokhye was taken to Japan at age 12, went to school in Tokyo and was forced to marry Japanese Count So Takeyuki at age 19. While suffering from mental illness and an unhappy marriage, she gave birth to her daughter, Masae, in 1932. The princess’ life took another tragic turn when her daughter went missing, and her health worsened. She was sent to a mental hospital, and finally divorced her husband in 1953. “Princess Deokhye” runs from May 1 to June 1 at Seongsu Art Hall in Seoul. Tickets range from 45,000 won to 60,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.
“Le Roi Soleil”: The Korean production of French musical “Le Roi Soleil,” based on the life of Louis XIV, is being performed at the Blue Square in Seoul. Actor Ahn Jae-wook and Shin Sung-rok share the role of Louis XIV. Actresses Yoon Gong-ju and Kim So-hyun are starring as Francoise, the second wife of Louis XIV. The show will run until June 1. Tickets are 60,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1591 or visit www.leroisoleil.co.kr.
“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.
“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.
|A scene from “Mookhyang” (National Theater of Korea)|
“Altar”: Fashion designer Jung Kuho and the National Dance Company of Korea’s collaboration “Altar” is being restaged in May and June. The dance was 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.
“AlreadyNotYet”: The Korea National Contemporary Dance Company is premiering its new program, “AlreadyNotYet,” a dance that explores the themes of life and death, reality and fantasy, and the present and future. Choreographed by artistic director Ahn Ae-soon, who has been creating works inspired by traditional Korean shamanism, the piece blends contemporary and traditional dance. Its musical score is produced by local musicians Park Min-hee and Lee Tae-won, who specialize in Korean traditional music. The production runs from May 15-18 at Arko Arts Theater in Hyehwa-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3472-1420.