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Chamber music gets a push

Lotte Concert Hall names Korean Chamber Orchestra, Esme Quartet inaugural in-house artists

From left: The Korean Chamber Orchestra’s Music Director Kim Min, violinist Bae Won-hee, violist Kim Ji-won, violinist Ha Yu-na and cellist Heo Ye-eun, speak at a press event held Monday at the Lotte Concert Hall in eastern Seoul. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)
From left: The Korean Chamber Orchestra’s Music Director Kim Min, violinist Bae Won-hee, violist Kim Ji-won, violinist Ha Yu-na and cellist Heo Ye-eun, speak at a press event held Monday at the Lotte Concert Hall in eastern Seoul. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)

While South Korea has decided to raise the social distancing level for the Greater Seoul area, the Lotte Concert Hall hopes to bring chamber music to its stage through its newly launched In House Artist Series.

The Lotte Concert Hall in eastern Seoul, a major classical music concert venue, will kick off the program with recitals by the Korea Chamber Orchestra on Thursday and the Esme Quartet on Saturday. As the concert hall’s in-house artists for the 2020-2021 season, the two groups will give a total of six performances through July 2021.

According to the concert hall, operated by the Lotte Foundation for Arts, affiliated with the local retail mogul Lotte Group, the program was established as a way to offer stable programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the hall is recognized for its delicate, soft acoustics, chamber music acts were chosen as its in-house artists, according to the concert hall. Also, it is easier to make adjustments to performances by private chamber music groups if necessary to comply with future social distancing measures.

“I think it is a first attempt ever for such music venue to have in-house chamber music acts. It is an honor for the Korean Chamber Orchestra,” Kim Min, music director of the orchestra, which celebrated its 55th anniversary last year, said at a press event Monday at the Lotte Concert Hall. 

The Korean Chamber Orchestra and violinist Vadim Repin (right front) perform at the Lotte Concert Hall in October 2019. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)
The Korean Chamber Orchestra and violinist Vadim Repin (right front) perform at the Lotte Concert Hall in October 2019. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)

The Esme Quartet, consisting of violinists Bae Won-hee and Ha Yu-na, violist Kim Ji-won and cellist Heo Ye-eun, expressed high hopes for the upcoming recitals.

“We hope the audiences will come to all three of our recitals,” Bae said. “We are in-house artists here and as we have three opportunities to perform, we hope to highlight our identity as a string quartet. We have rounded up the best works for a string quartet.” 

The Esme Quartet performs at the Lotte Concert Hall in August. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)
The Esme Quartet performs at the Lotte Concert Hall in August. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)

The quartet was formed in 2016 at the Hochschule fur Musik in Cologne, Germany. It rose to stardom in 2018 when it won five awards, including first prize, at the highly acclaimed Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London.

The Korean Chamber Orchestra will perform March 11 and July 2, presenting a diverse range of music from Haydn to Vivaldi. The March recital will pay tribute to Piazzolla, as 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Argentine musician.

The Esme Quartet will perform Saturday, followed by recitals May 11 and 16 featuring works by Dvorak, Debussy, Tchaikovsky and more.

In accordance with the government’s social distancing rules, the middle seat vacancy rule will be in effect for this week’s recitals. Ticket prices range from 40,000 won to 90,000 won ($36-$81).

For more information, check the concert hall’s official website at http://www.lotteconcerthall.com/eng.
 
The Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul (Lotte Foundation for Arts)
The Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul (Lotte Foundation for Arts)
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