“Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra 2011 Mahler Series III”: Conductor Chung Myung-whun and the Seoul Philharmonic Orcehstra will perform Mahler Symphony No. 6 at the Seoul Arts Center on Oct. 20. The 90-minute piece, written when Mahler was having the happiest moment in life, is comprised of four movements and is often called “The Tragic.” Tickets range from 10,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3700-6300.
Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Chung Myung-whun (SPO)
“Prague Philharmonia”: The Prague Philharmonia, an orchestra based in Prague, the Czech Republic, is to hold an Asia premier at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on Oct. 22-23. The young orchestra, loved much by the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti, will be led by conductor Ondřej Vrabec and perform Rossini Overture Italiana in Algeri, Dvorak Czech Suite and Beethoven Symphony No. 7 on Oct. 22. The next day, the program includes Mozart Figaro Overture, Dvorak Czech Suite and Beethoven Symphony No. 4.
Tickets range from 50,000 won to 250,000 won. For more information, call (02) 338-3513.
“Sydney Symphony Orchestra”: The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s first concert in Korea on Nov. 16-17 at the SAC’s Concert Hall is also noteworthy. Virtuoso pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy is the principal conductor of the orchestra, visiting Seoul this time with cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Evgeny Kissin. The program includes Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1, Brahms Symphony No. 1, Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2. Tickets range from 70,000 won to 250,000 won. For details, call (02) 599-5743.
“Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra”: The world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Simon Rattle, will come to Seoul again for concerts on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16. Sponsored by Samsung Electronics and organized by Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation, the first evening concert will take place at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall for Mahler Symphony No. 9 in D Major. The second day, the orchestra will move to Sejong Center for the Performing Arts for Bruckner Symphony No. 9 in d minor. The two works were both their composers’ last symphony. On Nov. 16, Ravel’s “Alborada del gracioso” from the suite “Miroirs” and Hosokawa’s Horn Concerto “Moment of Blossoming” will be also staged. Stefan Dohr will collaborate for the horn concerto. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 450,000 won. For more information, call (02) 6303-7700.
“St. Petersburg Philharmonic”: The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, led by artistic director and conductor Yuri Temirkanov, will come to Seoul again to showcase romantic and powerful European classical music for two days. Violinist Sara Chang will collaborate with the orchestra. Tmirkanov’s seasoned skills and precise interpretation of music will create synergy with Chang’s stormy passion and energy. The concerts will take place at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on Nov. 8-9. The Nov. 8 program includes Liadov Kikimora Op. 63, Sibelius Violin Concerto in d minor Op. 47 and Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 in e minor Op. 27. The next day, the first half is the same, followed by Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in e minor Op. 64.
“Asia Song Festival 2011”: The Asia Song Festival 2011, featuring a wide range of K-pop stars, will be held on Oct. 15 at the Daegu Stadium in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province. The line-up includes Beast, miss A, U-KISS and G.NA. Beast has been selected by the organizer as Korea’s representative artist, while miss A was picked as the best new Asian artist. SHINee won this award in 2008 and 2NE1 in 2009. For foreign fans, the organizer runs a English, Japanese and Chinese website at www.asf.or.kr. For quick information, check www.twitter.com/asongfe or www.facebook.com/lovesongfe.
Poster of Asia Song Festival 2011
“Kim Gun-mo’s 20th Anniversary Tour”: K-pop singer Kim Gun-mo celebrates the 20th anniversary of his debut by holding a two-year concert tour in over 20 cities in Korea, Japan and the U.S. He will begin his tour in Seoul on Nov. 4 and 5 at Olympic Park. Since his debut in 1992, Kim has seen many of his songs become massive hits in Korea. Kim recently unveiled his 13th album. Tickets range from 66,000 won to 132,000 won. For more information, call (02) 542-4145.
“X Japan live in Seoul”: Japanese heavy metal rock group X-Japan will meet their Seoul fans at a live concert on Oct. 28 at Olympic Park’s Gymnastic Stadium. Formed in 1982 by Yoshiki and Toshi, the band gained huge popularity in the late-1980s with their second album “Blue Blood.” Although the group disbanded in 1997, it reunited in 2007 and began performing live together again. Their representative songs include “Kurenai” and “Endless Rain.” Tickets range from 77,000 won to 187,000 won. For more information, call (02) 548-0597~8.
“Yanni Concert in Seoul”: New age pianist Yanni from Greece will come to Seoul for a concert at the Olympic Park Gymnasium on Oct. 14. The Greek pianist celebrates both the 40th anniversary of Hyundai Department Store and his newly released album “Truth of Touch.” His representative songs such as “Aria” and “Santorini” will be staged. Tickets range from 99,000 won to 270,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488.
“Jeonju Bibimbap Festival”: The Jeonju Bibimbap Festival will be held from Oct. 20 to Oct. 23 at the Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. It is a food festival with the theme of Jeonju bibimbap, one of the most recognizable local foods in Korea. This year’s festival, in particular, is hosted together with a variety of food events including the Korea Food & Tourism Festival, the International Fermented Food Expo, the Jeonju Yakryeong Hanbang Expo and the Traditional Liquor Festival. Highlights will include cultural performances as well as a food contest, food experiencing in the traditional hanok village. For more information, visit www.bibimbapfest.com.
Poster of the Jeonju Bibimbap Festival (Jeonju Bibimbap Festival Planning Team)
“Busan Jagalchi Festival”: The Busan Jagalchi Festival will be held at the Jagalchi Market in Nampo-dong in Busan through Oct. 16. Jagalchi Market is the largest seafood market in Korea and one of Busan’s most well-known tourist attractions. The festival takes place every autumn and its slogan is “Oiso! Boiso! Saiso!” (“Come! See! Buy!” in the Busan dialect). Small food stalls serve fresh inshore hagfish grilled on briquette fires. Other unusual sea creatures and sashimi-sliced fish will be offered as well. For more information, visit www.ijagalchi.co.kr.
“Gwangju Kimchi Festival”: The Gwangju Kimchi Festival celebrates Korea’s national food, kimchi. Visitors may sample a wide range of kimchi varieties, and learn how to make them. Exhibitions, educational and hands-on programs will be held during the festival as well. Gwangju in South Jeolla Province cultivates bountiful products like rice and a variety of seafood, which are used as the basic ingredients for the region’s diverse delicacies. The event will be held through Oct. 19 at the Jungeo Park in Buk-gu in Gwangju. For more information, visit kimchi.gwangju.kr.
“2011 Icheon Ceramic Festival”: Icheon, boasting 1,000 years of history in ceramic arts, will hold the famous “Icheon Ceramic Festival” through Oct. 23 at the Seolbong Park in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. Visitors will see a variety of Korea’s finest ceramics such as cheongja (celadon porcelain), baekja (white porcelain), and Buncheongsagi (grayish-blue powdered celadon). Highlights include the ceramics excavation program, and a workshop in which visitors can draw their own artwork on slightly heated pottery. Hot springs are located nearby as well for good relaxation. For more information, visit www.ceramic.or.kr.
“The 11th Seoul Performing Arts Festival”: Regarded as one of the biggest performing arts festivals in Asia, SPAF this year features a total of 37 works from eight different countries: Korea, Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Colombia, France, and Armenia. Aiming to introduce “the future of the performing arts,” this year’s highly innovative and wide-ranging program is divided into three different genres: theater, dance, and multidisciplinary. Must-sees include Australian play “Small Metal Objects,” which will be staged in Seoul Station with passers-by as unwitting extras, Korea’s theatrical play, “Makeup” which offers a fascinating interpretation of Joseon art and aesthetics. SPAF 2011 runs until Oct. 31 at major theatre venues at Daehangno -- the Arko Arts Theater and Daehangno Arts Theater. For tickets and information, call (02) 3668-0007 or visit www.spaf.or.kr.
A scene from Armenian piece “I Am Seagull,” featured in this year’s SPAF.(SPAF)
“Mimosa Pudica”(Yutzpracachia): Inspired by the real-life story of Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), the famous teacher of Helen Keller, Bukchon Art Hall’s current play “Mimosa Pudica” tells a story of a young girl who has been severely traumatized by the American Civil War and untreated trachoma, an infectious eye disease which leaves her almost blind. The play starts as Annie, who lives in a hospital orphanage, becomes emotionally unstable after her only sibling, Jimmie, dies. As her aggressive behavior gets uncontrollable, the abusive and uncaring staff members of the hospital decide to send her to the institution’s mental-care unit. Tormented and hurt by her past and her failing eye-sight, Annie refuses to talk and acts violently whenever the Big Annie, the loving and kind-hearted nurse at the mental unit, tries to console her. Annie’s condition doesn’t seem to improve, but the Big Annie doesn’t give up. One day, the nurse gets Annie a flowerpot of Mimosa pudica, a strange plant which apparently has to be constantly touched by humans in order to survive. Open run at Bukchon Art Hall, near Anguk subway station exit number 3, in central Seoul. Tickets cost 25,000 won. Children must be 10 or older to be admitted. For more information, call (02) 988-2258.
“Falling for Eve”: Actor Bong Tae-gyu, who has played mostly comic roles in his previous movies and TV shows, will star as the biblical character Adam in American playwright Joe DiPietro’s new musical “Falling for Eve.” A Rutgers University graduate, DiPietro has written many long-running off Broadway shows, including “Nice Work If You Get It” (2010), “The Toxic Avenger (2008), and “All Shook Up” (2005). He won Tony awards for the score and lyrics he wrote for musical “Memphis.” “Falling for Eve” is another version of the story in the first book of the bible. DiPietro’s Adam refuses to take the forbidden fruit from Eve, and tries to find his own paradise along with his wife. The first Korean production of the show was performed from July 23 till Sept. 11 at the M Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, and the second show with the same cast will run from until Nov. 13 at Chungmu Art Hall in central Seoul. Tickets cost 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 1577-3363.
“Mamma Mia!”: The global smash hit musical “Mamma Mia” is back as a Korean production. Based on songs of ABBA, including “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money,” and “Thank You for the Music,” the musical offers a hilarious tale of a young bride-to-be’s search for her unknown father. The show premiered in Korea in 2004, and was last performed here in 2009 at the National Theater of Korea. The current show stars musical actress Choi Jung-won as Donna, the single mother whose daughter is about to get married. Pop singer Lee Hyun-woo, who had his musical debut with “Singles” back in 2007, appears as Harry, one of the three potential fathers of Sophie, Donna’s only daughter. The show runs until Feb. 26 at D-Cube Arts Center in western Seoul, located near exit 1 of Sindorim subway station. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2211-3000.
“Cats”: “Cats,” celebrating its 30th anniversary, is back on Korea’s musical scene. Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot, the musical was first performed in Korea in 1994. Korean pop diva Insooni stars as its famous lead character Grizabella, a very old cat who used to be carefree and beautiful. She had left her home tribe to explore the outside world, though she knew she would never be allowed back. The musical unfolds as weary Grizabella tries to reconcile with the cats she left, asking for their acceptance once again. Sharing her role as Grizabella are musical actresses Hong Ji-min and Park Hae-mi. “Cats” runs from until Dec. 31 at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call (02) 1577-3363 or visit www.musicalcats.co.kr.
“text, textured scene”: Gana Contemporary Art Gallery in Pyeongchang-dong, central Seoul, is holding South Korean artist Lee Dong-jae’s solo exhibition. Lee is known for his constructed images using rice grains and various other found objects as pixels. For this show, the artist created well-known movie characters and posters in his unique style. The exhibition runs through Oct. 23. For more information, call (02) 720-1020 or visit www.gananart.com.
“Icon_Gone with the Wind” by Lee Dong-jae (Gana Art Center)
“Swedish Contemporary Craft Art”: Korea Foundation Cultural Center Gallery in Suha-dong, central Seoul, presents Swedish contemporary crafts which have recently drawn attention at world design fairs. It showcases craftworks by 17 Swedish artists including Per B. Sundberg, Ulla Forsell, Anders Ljungberg and Kicken Eriksson. The works have various themes but in general have to do with the reinvention of tradition, harmony with nature and people-centered design. The exhibition runs through Oct. 27. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 2151-6500 or visit www.kf.or.kr.
“My Way”: Plateau, Samsung Museum of Art, presents a mid-career retrospective of the leading French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel. The artist’s unique artistic spectrum ― from the early works of the 1980s to the latest monumental installations contemplating the philosophy of existence ― is on display. Some of the exhibits are being shown to the public for the first time. The exhibition runs through Nov. 27 at Plateau, Samsung Museum of Art in central Seoul. Tickets range from 3,000 won to 5,000 won. For more information, call 1577-7595 or visit www.plateau.or.kr.
“Agony and Ecstasy”: Artistic highlights from business mogul and noted collector Franois Pinault’s impressive collection have been brought to Seoul. Exhibits include paintings, sculptures, installation works and photos by four renowned contemporary artists ― Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman and Takashi Murakami. The show offers a rare chance to see Hirst’s formaldehyde solution installations and Murakami’s sculptures of exaggerated sexuality. The exhibition runs through Nov. 19 at SongEun ArtSpace in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 3448-0100 or visit www.songeunartspace.org
“French Art Today: Marcel Duchamp Prize”: Latest trends in the French contemporary art world can be spotted at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. About 100 artworks by 16 artists who either won or were nominated for the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize, including Philippe Ramette, Camille Henrot and Michel Blazy are on display. The exhibition runs through Oct. 16. Admission is 5,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2188-6114 or visit www.moca.go.kr.
“Pagina Bianca”: As the final performance of “The World Festival of National Theaters 2011,” Belgium’s Le Theatre de la place presents “Pagina Bianca,” a legendary contemporary dance. The notable part of the show is how a single dancer showcases four dances, each by different choreographers, on one stage. The show will run from Oct. 21 to 22 at the National Theater of Korea’s Daloreum Theater in Jangchung-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2280-4115 or visit www.ntok.go.kr.
A scene from “Pagina Blanca” (NTOK)
“The 14th Seoul International Dance Festival”: Hosted by Seoul Section of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO, this year’s SIDANCE offers 51 dance performances of various genres by 52 dance companies from 17 different countries. The event will run through Oct. 16 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul, Hoam Art Hall and Sogang University Mary Hall in central Seoul and other places throughout the city. Ticket prices vary for each performance. For more information, call (02) 3216-1185 or visit www.sidance.org.
“Romeo and Juliet”: Korea National Ballet presents the classic ballet “Romeo and Juliet.” Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will play the music composed by Serge Prokofiev and the choreography will be by Jean-Christophe Maillot. Conductor Cheong Myung-whun will take the baton. It will run from Oct. 27 to 30 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181 or visit www.kballet.org.
“Miso”: Translated as “beautiful smile,” this musical 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 storyline based on a well-known folktale, “The Tale of Chunhyang.” There are very few spoken lines throughout the performance, making it ideal for audiences of diverse nationalities. “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.