Summer music school grows with festival

By Korea Herald

Maestros meet young, aspiring musicians at Great Mountains Music Festival & School

  • Published : Jul 30, 2014 - 21:00
  • Updated : Jul 30, 2014 - 21:00
PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― On a sunny Sunday afternoon, students carrying their own instruments crisscrossed through dozens of buildings at the snowless ski resort of Alpensia, rushing to lessons, master classes or makeshift practice rooms.

Some of them were heading to the resort’s convention center, where renowned pianist Peter Frankl was scheduled for a master class. 


During the master class, which was open to the public, three students had a chance to perform in front of the maestro and a small audience consisting mostly of their fellow students and parents.

Park Ji-eun from Cleveland Institute of Music was the first to take the stage, playing Schumann’s “Carnaval,” Op. 9.

As soon as she finished the seven-minute piece, the 72-year-old virtuoso started making suggestions, sometimes demonstrating on the piano.

“Because of the ‘forte’ resonance, it’s better to stop here before (starting) ‘pianissimo,’” Frankl instructed, as Park went through the piece once again.

As the player reached the section with a waltz motif, he said: “Imagine here that a couple is dancing. And here, see these small notes? Imagine that the couple is saying something to each other ... like ‘I love you very much.’” The entire audience burst into laughter.

The maestro spoke gently but with authority, at one point telling the student to repeat the same part again and again until she got it right.

The session lasted for nearly 40 minutes. Then the process was repeated with two other students. Ashley Kaeun Hoe of the University of South California played Mendelssohn’s “Variations serieuses,” Op. 54, while Kim Tae-yong of the Juilliard School presented “Valses nobles et sentimentales” by Ravel.

For the three and others in the audience, every minute with the pianist must have been precious. Their gray-haired teacher is, in fact, an accomplished pianist with an illustrious career of more than five decades. He also boasts a number of recordings, including the complete works for piano by Schumann. 

Famed pianist Peter Frankl advises a student during a master class held as part of the Great Mountains Music Festival & School in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, Sunday. (GMMFS)

Frankl is among the 27-member faculty of the Great Mountains Music Festival and School, which takes place every year here at the end of July and beginning of August.

This year, some 141 students from nine countries are participating in the school. Each student gets four one-on-one sessions with the distinguished faculty members while the school runs. There are opportunities to attend master classes, an open lecture by Chinese cellist Jian Wang and various other events.

The school started in 2004 with the festival, modeled after Aspen Festival in the U.S.

Mixing beautiful nature, a laid-lack ambience and great music, the GMMFS has transformed Pyeongchang, a small town in Gangwon Province known for its many ski slopes, into a dream vacation destination for classical music lovers and aspiring young musicians.

The festival draws public attention with the illustrious names in the music world it brings, but its coartistic directors, sisters Chung Myung-hwa and Chung Kyung-hwa, feel most proud of the school.

“Every year, we’ve seen a rise in the number of students who apply as well as in their musical levels,” violinist Chung Kyung-hwa said during a press conference prior to the festival. “The fact that we’re helping cultivate the future generation of classical musicians is what means the most to me.”

So far, some 1,400 students from 19 countries have participated in the school.

This year’s festival, which runs until Aug. 5 under the theme of “O Sole Mio,” highlighting music from Spain and Italy, again brought renowned performers from abroad to Pyeongchang,

They include Spanish flamenco dancer Beln Cabanes; conductor Antoni Ros Marb; guitarist Xuefei Yang; soprano Kathleen Kim; mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong; violinists Svetlin Roussev, Clara-Jumi Kang and Kwun Hyuk-joo; cellists Jian Wang and Llus Claret; and pianists Kevin Kenner, Kim Dasol and Kim Tae-hyung. The Chung sisters will also perform.

“People usually would go to chamber music concerts in the evening after work. Then, sometimes, chamber music is little hard to enjoy,” cellist Chung Myung-hwa said. But in the festival, people leave their daily stress at home and listen to the music in such a beautiful and leisurely setting, she added.

The festival started out as a chamber music event, but has been steadily expanding its territory into orchestral, vocal music and even classical dance.

The Chung sisters are preparing for another leap in the festival’s history, by adding a winter festival in 2016.

“Pyeongchang is beautiful in summer and even more so in winter. It has everything needed for a music festival, having played host to the summer festival,” they said.

By Lee Sun-young (