The Korea Herald


Concerts to blast away the cobwebs

By 김윤미

Published : Jan. 3, 2011 - 20:43

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Ruichi Sakamoto, Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra to stage unusual performances

Ardent classical concertgoers may find it easy to keep awake during a classical concert in the evening, even after a long day of hard work and a series of self-reminders not to make any noise louder than breathing.

However, those less schooled in concert etiquette might secretly admit that they have at one time unintentionally fallen asleep, lulled by the hypnotic movements of the conductor’s baton.

There will be little chance of that happening at two upcoming concerts in Seoul.

Performances by pianist and composer Ruichi Sakamoto and Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra, are expected to showcase eye-catching scenes to keep the audience intrigued and amused.
Ruichi Sakamoto. (Vincero) Ruichi Sakamoto. (Vincero)

Sakamoto will perform the last leg of his “Playing the Piano” world tour, which began in Europe in 2009, at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on Jan. 9.

Describing himself as a musician “deconstructing the past and the present in order to lead us into the future with a greater scope,” Sakamoto has experimented on a wide range of music ― from film soundtracks to electronics, and from Debussy to bosa nova.

At his Seoul concert, the first one in 10 years since his visit in 2000, the Academy Award-winning artist will have two pianos ready at the stage; one that he plays and the other pre-programmed to play itself accompanying Sakamoto’s melodies.

Behind the stage, there will be a huge screen hung on the wall where visual effects move along the piano sounds. The stage art for the visual effect will harmonize with Sakamoto’s avant garde and lyrical melodies, concert organizer Vincero said.

“Exceptionally, the artist asked the Concert Hall to turn off all the emergency exit lights temporarily at the beginning of the concert to maximize the visual effects,” a Vincero spokesperson said.

Sakamoto will bring in visual and audio equipment weighing almost 4 tons directly from Japan for the effects, he said.

The program is mostly songs from his latest albums, “Playing the Piano” and “Out of Noise.”

For those who cannot come to the concert, including those overseas, Sakamoto said on Twitter that he will broadcast the entire Seoul performance live on Ustream at 
Willy Buchler, conductor and leader of the Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra. (Vincero) Willy Buchler, conductor and leader of the Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra. (Vincero)

Tickets to Sakamoto’s concert range from 50,000 won to 160,000 won and there are two shows ― at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ― on Jan. 9. For details, visit

Meanwhile, the Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra is to surprise the audience by showing “unexpected gestures” with Strauss’ waltz and polka at the SAC’s Concert Hall on Jan. 20.

The 30-year-old orchestra, established by John Strauss expert Peter Guth, has become internationally renowned for its unique “Vienna” sound coming from the unity of Vienna-born artists.

Conductor Willy Buchler, who is also the leader of the orchestra, will simultaneously conduct and play the violin to offer familiar rhythms and melodies of “Pizzicato” polka by Josef Strauss and “Voices of Spring” waltz by Johann Strauss II.

Soprano Im Sun-hae will collaborate to sing “Frhlingsstimmen,” as well as a song from Johann Strauss’ operetta “The Bat” and Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow.”

The VSFO usually encourage the audience to clap to the rhythms of waltz and polka at the New Year concerts and it is likely to do so also in Seoul, concert organizers said.

In Japan, where the orchestra has had New Year concerts for 11 years from 1998, the VSFO made the audience do “the wave” to the music in the 2009 New Year’s concert in the Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

The VSFO’s concert will be held on Jan. 18 in Jinju, on Jan. 20 in Seoul and on Jan. 21 in Uijeongbu. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 120,000 won. For details, call (02) 599-5743.

By Kim Yoon-mi (