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Herald Phil celebrates spring with annual concert

The Herald Philharmonic Orchestra’s third annual concert took place at Seoul Arts Center, just as the weather began to warm up to welcome spring on Thursday.

Headed by conductor Kim Bong-mee, the Herald Phil presented a two-part concert to an audience of roughly 2,300. The first half was mostly a selection of arias performed by three celebrated tenors. The second was a percussion-heavy set.

Conductor Kim Bong-mee directs the Herald Philharmonic Orchestra during final rehearsals at the Seoul Arts Center, before its third annual concert. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
Conductor Kim Bong-mee directs the Herald Philharmonic Orchestra during final rehearsals at the Seoul Arts Center, before its third annual concert. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

There were individual aria performances by tenors Kim Dong-won, Shin Dong-won and Lee Dong-myung from famed operas such as “Rigoletto,” “Il Trovatore” and “Pagliacci.” Later, all three of them came on stage together for two Korean folk songs and the “Nessun dorma” aria from the opera “Turandot.”

“We really shouldn’t have put all three tenors on one stage, because they’re more jealous than women,” joked conductor Kim before inviting all three back to deliver a powerful performance.

In the second half, trombonist Lee Cheol-woong gave the first-ever performance in Korea of the trombone arrangement for Arthur Willard Pryor’s famous song “Annie Laurie,” following which percussionist Shim Sun-min gave the audience a visually and acoustically varied experience with Schwantner’s “Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra.”

Described by conductor Kim as a work that was “hard to hear” in Korea, the piece had Shim running back and forth between various percussion instruments, switching mallets and drumsticks between notes. 

The Herald Philharmonic Orchestra rehearses at Seoul Arts Center, before its third annual concert. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
The Herald Philharmonic Orchestra rehearses at Seoul Arts Center, before its third annual concert. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

True to the ensemble’s goal of expanding the reach of orchestral music, the enthusiastic audience included members of the Korean Navy, ambassadors to Korea from various nations, and in the choir seats, firemen and their families. 

Kim also ensured that no audience member would feel lost during the concert, adding humorous explanations before every song to briefly explain its creation or significance.

Kryzstof Majka, the Polish Ambassador to Korea, said after the concert, “It was a memorable evening ... The orchestra was gracefully – seeming almost effortlessly -- conducted by Ms. Kim Bong-mee. I have seen her performances a few times and I was always impressed by her musical interpretation, (and her) good contact with the orchestra and the audience.” 

As for the tenors, he said, “It looked like the big stage of the Seoul Arts Center was too small for them.” 

The Herald Philharmonic Orchestra was founded by Herald Corp., the parent company of The Korea Herald, in 2014. Through its annual concert and other smaller performances throughout the year, the Herald Phil aims to share classical music with a wide audience.

By Won Ho-jung(hjwon@heraldcorp.com)

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