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[Herald Interview] Are you up for 24 hours of nonstop classical music?

The House Concert to present a full-day run of classical music from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday

Pianist Park Chang-soo (Kim Shin-joong/The House Concert)
Pianist Park Chang-soo (Kim Shin-joong/The House Concert)

Only classical music can enlighten us, according to pianist-turned-producer Park Chang-soo.

The veteran pianist heads The House Concert, a production company that plans small salon concerts.

This weekend, classical music will run from 5 p.m. on Friday to 5 p.m. on Saturday at the recording studio Yul Haus in southern Seoul, as The House Concert presents the third edition of its “24hours Project.”

“I want the audience to enjoy the essence of classical music, which forms the base of all music of today,” Park said during an interview with The Korea Herald at his office in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday.

This year’s event will feature 87 artists in 24 acts, presenting a classical music program ranging from Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Greig’s Holberg Suite.

“I usually include nonclassical music in the program, too, introducing more experimental repertoires. This year, however, it is 100 percent classical music,” said the 57-year-old artist, recognized for practicing “free music,” which involves improvisation.

“Culture is rooted in the fine arts. Everything begins from it. These days, people follow trends without really knowing what they are enjoying. Such blind pursuit limits a person’s ability to think in all areas. We need classical music more than ever,” he said.

“These are hard times with the COVID-19 pandemic and artists around the world are on the brink. At a time like this, only classical music can enlighten us,” Park added. 

Renowned pianist Park Jong-hae plays at Artist House in Daehangno, central Seoul, at a festival in July. (Kim Shin-joong/The House Concert)
Renowned pianist Park Jong-hae plays at Artist House in Daehangno, central Seoul, at a festival in July. (Kim Shin-joong/The House Concert)

The 24-hour event requires some artists to perform at “unconventional hours,” from midnight to dawn. Still, musicians -- from rookies to veterans -- were eager to participate, Park said.

“Casting was easy. Musicians, of course, are not experienced in performing overnight or at dawn. But these days, artists are thirsty for music and performing,” he said, referring to the pandemic.

Park recalled the final day of a monthlong festival that ran through July this year, when the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas was performed at a 13-hour concert. Around 40 people stayed for the entire event, he said.

“It was really heartwarming. I was touched. The people were not experts of music or related to the music industry. They were ordinary people who really, truly enjoy music,” Park recounted.

“In 2022, The House Concert will have its 20th anniversary. I plan to retire, return to my original job as an artist. I have been overwhelmed for the past two decades. For The House Concert, it is a time for a new era to begin,” Park said.

“I used to have around 50 performances a year. But after things got accelerated for The House Concert in 2012, I haven’t been able to properly perform. I hope to return to the piano and compose more works,” Park said.

This year’s “24hours Project” is supported by the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the in-person audience will be limited to 20. All performances will be livestreamed on YouTube.

By Im Eun-byel (