The Korea Herald


Classic Revolution 2021 offers ‘light of hope’

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Aug. 13, 2021 - 16:46

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Artistic Director Christoph Poppen speaks during a press event held Thursday at the Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul. (Lotte Concert Hall) Artistic Director Christoph Poppen speaks during a press event held Thursday at the Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul. (Lotte Concert Hall)

Though the fourth wave of the pandemic is yet to be contained, Classic Revolution 2021 wants to offer a light of hope to audiences in these trying times.

Following the first run last year, the Lotte Concert Hall in eastern Seoul is holding the second edition of the summer music festival from Friday to Aug. 22, highlighting celebrated German composer Brahms and Piazzolla, whose 100th anniversary of birth is celebrated this year.

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will kick off the 10-day festival under the baton of its music director Osmo Vanska, joined by pianist Sunwoo Yekwon, performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 and Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68.

“Personally, I think Brahms’ music goes well with our difficult times. He composed a lot of serious music. But there is also this light of hope, what we need now,” artistic director Christoph Poppen said at a press event held Thursday at the concert hall.

Though the German conductor went through the mandatory two-week, self-quarantine for the festival last year, he received an exemption this year. He arrived in Korea on Wednesday.

“This year it is still very difficult, I see the figures go up. But I think we are in a better situation. The artistic level was very high last year and it will be the same this year,” Poppen said.

Poppen will take the baton Tuesday for the Korean Symphony Orchestra, performing Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. He hinted that the fourth symphony is his favorite Brahms symphony as it is the “most mature.”

On Sunday, there will be three performances of chamber music by Brahms, presented by the Novus Quartet and other artists.

“To make (the festival) more colorful, we decided to give a program dedicated to Piazzolla and other composers who had influence on him such as Saint-Saens and Mozart,” he said.

During the festival, the Argentine composer’s 1982 album “Oblivion” will be presented four times by three orchestras and a chamber music ensemble.

The SPO and Vanska will close the festival on Aug. 22, joined by oboist Ham Kyung, performing Piazzolla’s Tres Movimientos Tanguisticos Portenos, Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C major, K. 314 and Ginastera’s Variaciones Concertantes, Op. 23.

“Music is much more than entertainment. It can become the soul of people who are suffering at these times,” Poppen said. “As an artist, we have to express feeling through music. We cannot express anything we do not feel. Everything we experience is good for the music because it makes us strong musicians.”

Next year, the festival will focus on two composers, Mendelssohn and Korngold.

By Im Eun-byel (