“WA: The Spirit of Harmony and Japanese Design Today”: This show explains why adjectives such as “minimal,” “delicate” and, surprisingly, “thoughtful,” cannot help but be used to describe products made in Japan. It does more than introducing the latest cutting-edge designs: it offers an overall view of historically important designs by the Japanese that were created over 50 years ago and are continuously used. The show is arranged like a mini department store, showcasing 161 products divided into 12 categories and six key words such as “cute,” and “thoughtful.” The exhibition runs through March 19 at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center in Sunhwa-dong, central Seoul. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 2151-6500 or visit www.kfcenter.or.kr.
“Philosopher’s Tree”: Michael Kenna’s black and white tree photographs entice visitors to go off somewhere and find their own tall trees to lie beneath. Kenna is referred to as a “landscape photographer,” especially known for his serene photos of trees delicately highlighted with natural light. The British received numerous awards including the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the Culture Ministry of France in 2000. His current solo show displays 50 tree photos he has taken in North America, Asia and Europe since the 1980s. “Philosopher’s Tree” runs through March 20 at Gallery Kong in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 2,000 won to 3,000 won. For more information, call (02) 738-7776 or visit www.gallerykong.com.
“Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams”: The exhibition features home appliances designed by the legendary industrial designer Rams ― well-known for his influence on Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of Industrial Design at Apple. All 400 exhibits appear timeless and chic, fitting in anywhere, anytime. Rams created many best-selling designs throughout his 40-year-career at Braun and Vitsoe. The 77-year-old retired from Braun in 1997 and received the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2007 for achievements in the area of design. The exhibition runs through March 20 at Daelim Contemporary Art Museum in Tongui-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 1,000 won to 5,000 won. For more information, call (02) 720-0667 or visit www.daelimmuseum.org.
“Huh Dal-jae Solo Exhibition”: Chinese plum flowers are likened to “seonbi,” or a firm and right-minded scholar, in Korea because their soft and fragrant petals peep out despite the chilly weather. Lotte Gallery in Avenuel Sogong-dong, central Seoul, showcases 60 plum flower paintings by Huh Dal-jae. In his paintings, the blossoms of the Chinese plum trees are more bountiful compared to those seen in traditional paintings. At Lotte Gallery, the exhibition runs through March 20. The paintings will be displayed throughout Avenuel until April 25. For more information, call (02) 726-4428~9.
“TEXT/VIDEO/FEMALE: Art after ‘60s”: A wave of change occurred in art in the 1960s, when artists started to refuse the legitimacy of traditional fine art and pursued brand new media and subjects. Mind-boggling artworks by 11 major contemporary artists ― Louise Bourgeois, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Dan Graham, On Kawara, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Paik Nam-june, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner ― are on display at the exhibition currently underway at PKM Trinity Gallery in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul. The exhibition runs through March 23. For more information, call (02) 515-9496~7 or visit www.pkmgallery.com.
“H Box 2011”: “H Box,” the 6.5 meter wide and 5 meter tall spaceship-like structure on the third floor of Artsonje Center in Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul, is a mini, portable screening room for video artworks, organized by the Hermes Foundation. The project was initiated in 2006 and so far a total of 21 video works have toured around prestigious museums and art festivals of the world. Here, eight video works are currently on show, including four premiering works. “H Box 2011” runs through May 1. For more information, call (02) 733-8945 or visit www.artsonje.org.
“Hybrid Code”: Savina Museum of Contemporary Art offers 30 paintings, sculptures, photos, installations and video artworks which gave new functions to familiar objects by applying high-technology. The exhibition is divided into three sections ― Psychological Mutant, Expansion of Architectural Concept and Apply Science to Daily Life. It runs through April 14 at Savina Museum of Contemporary Art in Anguk-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 736-4371 or visit www.savinamuseum.com.
“CHINA The New Wave”: In commemoration of the 19th anniversary of Korea-China diplomatic relations, 63 Sky Art Gallery presents 60 paintings and photographs by 16 of China’s representative contemporary artists including Fang Lijun, Zeng Fanzhi, Yue Minjun, Ru Xiaofan and Zhang Xiaogang. The exhibition runs through July 3 at 63 Building’s 63 Sky Art Gallery in Yeouido-dong, central Seoul. Tickets are 11,000 won for children and adolescents and 12,000 won for adults. For more information, call (02) 789-5663 or visit www.63.co.kr.
“Head” by Yue Minjun at the exhibition “CHINA The New Wave” which runs through July 3 at 63 Sky Art Gallery in Yeouido-dong, central Seoul. (63 Sky Art Gallery)
“Don Quixote”: Universal Ballet Theater, the nation’s oldest private ballet company, will present “Don Quixote” from March 25 to March 28 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. The show will focus on brilliant and flashy choreography and the highlight appears in the third act ― the wedding scene. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or visit www.ubcballet.com.
“Varekai”: Canadian troupe Cirque du Soleil will perform “Varekai” from April 6 to May 29 at the tent of the Big Top Theater in Jamsil Sports Complex in southern Seoul. The show is about a story of Icarus from Greek mythology. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 220,000 won. The 220,000-won “Tapis Rouge” ticket includes a VIP lounge service and souvenirs such as a program book and CD. For more information, call (02) 541-6235 or visit www.varekai.co.kr.
“Yakiniku Dragon”: The play narrates the joys and sorrows of a Korean family ekeing out a precarious living in Japan in the late 1960s ― fighting against the cold shoulders of the Japanese and clinging to what is left of their roots. Co-produced by South Korea’s Seoul Arts Center and Japan’s New National Theater Foundation, the play has scooped numerous awards in both countries. It runs through March 20 at Seoul Arts Center’s Towol Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or visit www.sacticket.co.kr.
“La Cantatrice Chauve”: This play ― the title of which means “The Bald Soprano” ― is determined to break the rules ― and break them it does. Viewers can eat snacks, drink, answer phone calls and take photos of the show as freely as they please. Originally written by Romanian playwright Eugene Ionesco in 1950, the play is filled with non sequiturs that satirize modern society and express the futility of meaningful communication and relationships. It runs through March 31 at SM Art Hall in Daehangno, central Seoul. Tickets are 40,000 won. For more information on both plays, call (02) 764-8760 or visit www.stage2010.com.
“Dom Juan”: Myeongdong Theater presents the play “Dom Juan,” based on French writer Moliere’s script. The play was first born as “Don Juan” in the 17th century by Spanish writer Tirso de Molina. This is the first time in 32 years that the play is being held here after its premiere held at the National Theater in 1979. Actors Kim Do-hyun and Lee Yul will play the roles of Dom Juan. “Dom Juan” runs through April 3 at Myeongdong Theater in Myeong-dong, central Seoul. Admission ranges from 20,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call 1644-2003 or visit www.MDtheater.or.kr.
A scene from the play “Dom Juan” which runs through April 3 at Myeongdong Theater in Myeong-dong, central Seoul. (Myeongdong Theater)
“Kiss of the Spider Woman”: Based on Argentine writer Manuel Puig’s script “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” director Lee Gi-na and four male actors are to present a uniquely Korean drama of a male couple locked in a prison cell. Politically revolutionary Valentin and gay Molina, who has been convicted for having sex with a minor, have nerve-breaking arguments but fall in love after all. Actors Jung Sung-hwa and Park Eun-tae have been cast as Valentin and Molina. The drama will run through April 24 at the Daehangno Art One Theater. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For details, call (02) 764-8760.
“Tears of Heaven”: This story of a Korean man’s passionate love for a Vietnamese woman during the Vietnam War takes a cruel twist following a betrayal by the woman’s friend. “Jekyll & Hyde” composer Frank Widlhorn composed 30 songs for the musical, “Sweeny Todd” director Gabriel Barre was in overall charge and Tony Award-winning stage designer David Gallo set up the stage. It runs through March 19 at the Haeoreum Theater of the National Theater of Korea. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 130,000 won. For details, call (02) 501-7888.
“Aida”: The Korean adaptation of hit musical “Aida” runs through March 27 at the Seongnam Art Center Opera House. The local version will star Ok Joo-hyeon, Kim Woo-hyeong, and Jung Seon-ah. The popular two act musical is based on Giuseppe Verdi’s Italian-language opera by the same name, the scenario of which was written by Auguste Mariette. The musical was produced by Disney Theatrical, with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang. The musical originated from a children’s storybook version of Verdi’s opera written by the soprano Leontyne Price. For details call (02) 02 577-1987.
“Gwanghwamun Younga”: Based on 33 songs by late composer Lee Young-hoon, this jukebox musical will run from March 20 to April 10 at the Grand Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Rock musician Yoon Do-hyun has been double cast with actor Song Chang-eui as the main character, Sang-hun of the past. Powerful vocalist Lisa Chung has been cast for Yeoju, while actors Kim Moo-yeol and Lim Byung-geun will play Hyeon-woo. Actor Park Jeong-hwan will play Sang-hun of the present. Three characters Sang-hun, his brother Hyeon-woo and Yeo-ju tell a story of their love triangle, intertwined with protests for democracy in Korea in the 1980s. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 130,000 won. For details, call 1666-8662.
“Miso”: “Miso,” translated as “beautiful smile,” offers a compact presentation of everything Korean culture first-timers could wish for. It blends ten different kinds of traditional dances, five traditional games and a wedding ritual into the main story line based on a well-known folktale, “The Tale of Chunhyang.” There are very few spoken lines throughout the whole performance, catering to audiences of diverse nationalities. Instead, actors hold up signs written in five different languages at crucial moments in the story. “Miso” is showing as an open run at Chongdong Theater in Jeong-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 751-1500 or visit www.koreamiso.com.
“2011 Aram Nuri Symphonic Series I”: The Goyang Culture Foundation has embarked on a seven-year project to extensively cover symphonic orchestra music from 2011 to 2017. The series will compare Haydn with Mozart in 2011, Beethoven with Brahms in 2012, Tchaikovsky with Rachmaninoff in 2013, Schubert with Mendelssohn in 2014, Dvorak with Sibelius in 2015, Bruckner with Mahler in 2016 and Prokofiev with Shostakovich in 2017. As the first leg of the series, pianist and conductor Kim Dae-jin-led Suwon Symphony Orchestra will perform Mozart’s symphonies on March 26 at the Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center at 7 p.m. The program includes Mozart Overture from Opera “the Marriage of Figaro,” Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major K.467 and Symphony No. 40 in g minor K. 550. Pianist Son Yeol-eum will collaborate. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 50,000 won. For details, call 1577-7766.
“Hilary Hahn & English Chamber Orchestra”: U.S. violin virtuoso Hilary Hahn and the English Chamber Orchestra will visit Korea to perform Haydn’s Symphony No. 44, Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 “Turkish,” Purcell’s Chaconne and Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on April 12. Mozart Violin Concert No. 5 is known to be a difficult piece to play, in particular, due to its simplicity. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 160,000 won. For details, call (02) 599-5743.
“Opera Faust”: The Korea National Opera’s will stage Charles Gounod’s “Faust” from March 16 to March 20 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater under artistic director Lee So-young. With the Korean Symphony Orchestra and Italian conductor Ottavio Marino, tenor Kim Woo-kyung will play the major character Faust. Kim became the first Korean opera singer to become part of the New York Metropolitan Opera Association in 2006-2007 Season. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 586-5282.
“Traveling Paganini: Journey to the Sun”: Denis Sung-ho Janssens, Korean-born Belgian guitarist, will take his three friends ― one of the top string artists in violin, viola and cello ― to perform together for the concert, “Traveling Paganini: Journey to the Sun,” at the LG Arts Center in Seoul on March 16. Song Young-hoon, arguably the most sought after cellist in Korea, will collaborate with the three artists. For the violin part, the 2009 Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition second winner Lorenzo Gatto will join the stage, while Swiss violist Lyda Chen Argerich, elder daughter of legendary pianist Martha Argerich, will show her talent as well. The program includes works of Paganini, Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Argentine tango composer Piazzolla. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For details, call (02) 3436-5222.
“Beethoven Violin Sonata Cycle”: Veteran violinist Kim Min and pianist Lee Dai-uk will present a mature classical sound by staging all 10 of Beethoven’s violin sonatas through a three-week concert series in March at the Kumho Art Hall. The 69-year-old violinist and the 64-year-old pianist will perform together in concerts on March 17 and March 24 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets range from 8,000 won to 30,000 won. Call (02) 6303-7700.
“El Sistema II”: The Caracas Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and conductor Christian Vasquez are to stage Saint Saens Symphony No. 3 and Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on March 27. El Sistema refers to a music education program in Venezuela dedicated to teaching juvenile delinquents and children from low-income households to play musical instruments. Its director and founder Jose Antonio Abreu received the 10th Seoul Peace Prize last year. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For details, call (02) 1577-5266.
“Steve Barakatt White Concert”: New age pianist and composer Steve Barakatt will hold a concert on March 13 at the Seoul Arts Center to celebrate White Day which falls on March 14. The program will include his popular works including “I’m Sorry” and “Flying.” Korean vocalists John Park and Kim Geu-rim, who gained fame through the reality TV show “Superstar K,” will join him on stage. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. Call 1577-5266 for more information.
“Angelique Kidjo Live Concert”: Angelique Kidjo, a Benninoise singer-songwriter from western Africa, will showcase her unique musical style, mixing up R&B, funk, jazz, American pop, European and even Latin American music, at the LG Arts Center in Seoul on March 13 at 6 p.m. The show will include songs from her latest album “Oyo” and some of her representative hits including “Africa,” “Agolo,” “Batonga” and “Tumba.” Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For details, call (02) 2005-0114.
“Nah Youn-sun Live Concert”: Jazz vocalist Nah Youn-sun, whose popularity in Europe means that this is a rare Korean performance, will return to the LG Arts Center for the first time in five years. Nah will collaborate with guitarist Ulf Wakenius, bassist and cellist Lars Danielsson and accordionist Vincent Peirani.
Without any percussion or drums, Nah will create rhythms and beats only with guitars, bass, cello and accordion. Nah will be performing on March 23 at 8 p.m. and tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For details, call (02) 2005-0114.
“Slash live concert in Seoul”: Slash, best known as former lead guitarist of U.S. rock band Guns N’ Roses, is to hold a solo concert on March 20 at Ax-Hall in Seoul. He was last in Seoul in 1999 when here performing with Michael Jackson. Born in 1965 and debuting in 1983, Slash was named the No. 2 guitarist on Time Magazine’s list of 10 best electric guitar players of all time in 2009, trailing his hero Jimmy Hendrix.
Myles Kennedy, lead vocalist of the rock band Alter Bridge, will also join the show. Tickets are 99,000 won. For details, call (02) 3141-3488.
“Fran Healy Live in Seoul”: Scottish rock band Travis’ lead vocal and guitarist Fran Healy is to hold a solo concert in Seoul on March 18. Travis won the best new artist at the Brit Awards in 1998 and the best rock band with its second album “The Man Who” in 1999. The band had its first concert in Korea in 2008. The show will be at V Hall in central Seoul at 8:30 p.m. Call (02) 332-3277.
2011 Tongyeong International Music Festival “Moving Dimension”: Under a new artistic director Alexander Libreich of Germany, the 10th Yongyeong International Music Festival will kick off on March 26. The theme, “Moving Dimension,” was suggested by Libreich based on Isang Yun’s work “Dimensionen.” The festival will feature stages by Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Isang Yun Competition winners Kim Jae-young and William Hong-chun Youn, jazz vocalist Nah Youn-sun, composer Chin Un-suk & Heiner Goebbels and more. The festival runs through April 1 in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 100,000 won. Call (02) 3474-8315.