In a collaboration between passionate international and local residents, the Gwangju International Center is forming a citizen choir to transcend cultural and language barriers.
This is the first time the GIC will call upon people without a background in music to participate in its annual May concert, which raises funds to support minority groups in Gwangju and for international causes.
“This edition is open to both local and international residents who love music and are willing to (create an) exchange through music even if they are not professional (musicians) and don’t have a music major,” said Lee Jeong-min, who is in charge of the May concert.
“Classical music is regarded as a difficult genre for the public, (so we want to) promote it and encourage local and international residents of Gwangju to take part in it.
“We also have many professional musicians (on board), and we would like to encourage them to teach the public and give them a chance to learn about music.”
The GIC choir and professional musicians perform in its 2014 May concert. (GIC)
Last year, the concert’s theme was “Harmony of Hope” and included a special performance from the Mokpo Gwangmyeongwon Handbell Choir, a group of musicians with disabilities.
“We tried to give a message of hope to (people with disabilities) and the underprivileged through the songs of musicians from around the world who overcame disability and pain,” recalled Lee.
Established in 1999, the GIC “creates more opportunities for Gwangju citizens (of all nationalities) to exchange their cultures and enhance mutual understanding,” she said.
“There are many local and international minorities in Gwangju such as refugees, stateless kids, orphans and other people who need (our) support.
“Since 2003, the May concert has raised funds for a foreign workers shelter, refugees and the victims of the earthquakes in Japan. (We want to encourage) a love of our country through music and give support to human rights activists.”
Formed in 2014, the first GIC choir involved vocal music students and members of the Gwangju Performance Project, a local expat group for the performing arts.
This year’s choir will open things up to the wider public. Because of this, Lee hopes “the music will serve as a window for people from various backgrounds (to) spend time together and exchange (cultures).”
Participants will perform well-known Korean and international folk songs to “share the music of the world together.”
They will rehearse for three months, during which they will also receive professional vocal training, before performing at the concert on May 27.
Jung Gook-joo, an experienced musician who will lead the choir, said joining a choir is the easiest way to embrace and share one’s love for music.
“It is difficult to perform alone, but (performing together) can make a (big difference).”
Jung expressed hopes his choir finds the experience rewarding and learns something new about music from a performer’s perspective.
“I not only wish that all of the local and international members will have a good performance, but also that audiences and performers (alike) will love this choir.”
Interested music lovers and aspiring singers should register online at https://goo.gl/HtExvX
before 6 p.m. on Feb. 23. Auditions are to take place on Feb. 24 at the GIC Concert Hall.
By Sylvia Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org