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Austrian orchestra cancels Tongyeong concerts over Japan radiation fears

To the great disappointment of classical music lovers who had anticipated the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra’s opening concert for the Tongyeong International Music Festival on Saturday, the Austrian orchestra has called off its visit to Korea due to fears of radiation from Japan just two days before the concert.

The TIMF secretariat office said on Thursday the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra cancelled its two concerts for the festival ― the opening concert scheduled for Saturday and the second on March 28 ― due to concerns about radiation leakage from Japanese nuclear power plants in the wake of the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“Despite our best efforts to assure safety, the orchestra notified us of the cancellation on Wednesday citing concerns about radiation leakage from Japan,” the TIMF secretariat office said in a statement.

“While the Korean government officially announced that the radiation leakage in Japan will not affect Korea and more than 150 other artists plan to visit Tongyeong for the 2011 TIMF, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra’s concert cancellation seems to have been affected by the Austrians’ traumatic memory of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.”

The Austrian orchestra’s two concerts were all sold out in just a month when they went on sale in January.

Regarding whether the festival organizer will take a legal action against the orchestra for the abrupt concert cancellation, spokesperson Ahn Ji-hye did not comment on the issue but said “the organizer is discussing follow-up issues with artists who canceled the concerts.”

The opening concert will be replaced by “Alexander Liebreich & Good Friends,” a charity concert in which TIMF’s new artistic director Alexander Liebreich, TIMF’s residence artist soprano Suh Ye-ree, jazz vocalist Nah Youn-sun and veteran actress Yoon Seok-hwa will tell their stories through music.

All of the revenue from the opening charity concert will be donated to help victims hit by the earthquake in Japan, the organizer said.

During the music festival which runs through April 1 in the coastal city in South Gyeongsang Province, collection boxes will be installed at concert venues to encourage participants to make donations for Japan, it said.

The TIMF was established in 2002 to remember late Korean-German composer Yun I-sang (1917-1995), who was born in Chungmu, the old name of Tongyeong. Yun studied and settled in West Germany in the 1960s. Yun was kidnapped by the South Korean police for alleged espionage and was sentenced to life imprisonment. After seeking exile in West Germany in 1969, Yun was not allowed to visit Korea again.

Under the theme “Moving Dimension,” which was suggested by Libreich based on Yun I-sang’s 1971 work “Dimensionen,” the 2011 TIMF Season consists of classical and contemporary music concerts, concerts for children, forums, lectures and master classes. Participating artists include Isang Yun Competition winners Kim Jae-young and William Hong-chun Youn, contemporary classical music composer Chin Un-suk, German composer Heiner Goebbels and Russian pianist Igor Levit.

The music festival also includes TIMF Fringe 2011, a competition program for amateur musicians in classical music, rock, pop, fusion music and Korean traditional music. A total of 161 teams will hold small concerts in Tongyeong throughout the festival until April 1.

For those who purchased tickets for the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra’s concerts, the organizer will either fully refund the money or replace the tickets with those for other concerts during the festival. For ticket inquiries, call (055) 642-8662.

By Kim Yoon-mi (

<한글 기사> 

日 방사능 공포에 TIMF 개막공연 변경

일본 후쿠시마(福島) 원자력발전소의 방사성 물 질 유출의 여파로 개막을 이틀 앞둔 경남 통영국제음악제(TIMF)의 개막공연이 다른 공연으로 대체되는 소동이 벌어졌다.

당초 개막공연을 하기로 했던 오스트리아 '잘츠부르크 모차테리움 오케스트라'가 '방사능 공포' 때문에 돌연 한국공연을 취소한 때문이다.
TIMF사무국은 24일 통영시청 브리핑룸에서 기자회견을 열고 26일로 예정됐던  '잘츠부르크 모차르테움 오케스트라'의 개막공연을 대신해 예술감독 알렉산더 리브라 이히와 함께 하는 '일본 대지진 피해자 구호 자선공연'을 진행한다고 밝혔다. 

당초 개막공연을 하기로 했던 이 오케스트라는 23일 TIMF측에 '일본 방사성 물질 유출 공포 때문에 공연을 취소한다'고 통보해 왔다.

TIMF사무국은 "한국은 안전하다는 점을 적극 설득했음에도 불구하고 공연 취소를 알려왔다"며 "1986년 체르노빌 원전 폭발사태를 직접적으로 경험한 오스트리아의 정서가 작용한 것으로 보인다"고 설명했다. 

TIMF사무국은 대체한 개막공연의 수익금 전액은 일본 대지진 피해자 구호 성금으로 전달하고 음악제 기간에는 공연장마다 지진피해 복구기금 마련을 위한 모금함도 설치하기로 했다.

이용민 사무국장은 "갑작스러운 공연 취소통보에 큰 유감을 표한다"며 "음악제를 마친 뒤에 상황을 봐서 해당 오케스트라를 대상으로 적절한 보상절차를 밟을 계획"이라고 말했다.  

한편 TIMF사무국은 이미 개막공연 표를 구입한 관객들에 대해서는 전액 환불해 주거나 대체 개막공연을 볼 수 있게 하기로 했다. 환불 및 티켓문의는 ☎055-642-86 62~3.


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