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Daniel Barenboim cancels recital, citing quarantine rules

Daniel Barenboim (Happening People)
Daniel Barenboim (Happening People)

In the pandemic era, the mandatory two-week quarantine remains a great obstacle for the performing arts scene.

Acclaimed conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim was slated to hold a recital at the Seoul Arts Center on May 19 to mark the release of his Deutsche Grammophon Beethoven piano sonata album. It was to have been his first piano recital in South Korea.

But production agency Inarts Production announced Friday that the recital was canceled as Barenboim was not granted exemption from the quarantine rules.

The agency also said Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili’s May 2 recital was canceled for the same reason.

“For the historic recital by Barenboim, his first in Korea, we worked on receiving an exemption or shortening the quarantine period for him with his vaccination certificate and the negative PCR result. But we had to cancel the recital,” the agency said.

“Barenboim and Buniatishvili both understood the seriousness of the infectious disease prevention and control, and expressed their regrets to the Korean audiences who have waited a long time for the performances,” it said.

Barenboim and Buniatishvili are not the first performers to cancel engagements in Korea due to the quarantine rules.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra canceled two concerts in Seoul last year, violinist Tedi Papavrami’s first recital in Korea was canceled, and cellist Mischa Maisky’s performance has been postponed to next year instead of this coming May.

German pianist Igor Levitt’s May recital and the Oslo Philharmonic’s June concert are likely to be canceled too, according to the organizers.

The Mariinsky Ballet’s Kim Ki-min and the Bolshoi Ballet’s Olga Smirnova were to perform in Seoul in “La Bayadere” with the Korean National Ballet. But their visits were canceled as they were not granted exemption from the quarantine rules.

While foreign performers who live in Korea or have contracts with local institutions -- such as Massimo Zanetti, music director of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, and Osmo Vanska, music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra -- can self-quarantine in their homes for 14 days, short-term foreign visitors are required to quarantine at designated government facilities.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “isolation exemption certificates” can be granted to visitors traveling here for official events, such as government meetings, or for humanitarian purposes.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into the possibility of shortening the 14-day quarantine with the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccination status digital certification system.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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