The Korea Herald


With top-quality sound, Bucheon Art Center is ready for music

By Park Ga-young

Published : May 11, 2023 - 17:41

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Equipped with top-quality sound, Bucheon Art Center is ready to open its doors to the public on May 19, almost two decades after the initial plan for the construction of an art hall in the city of Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, was passed.

“Bucheon's long-awaited dream has finally become a reality,” Bucheon Mayor Cho Yong-eek told reporters on Thursday at BAC’s concert hall. "I'm happy to announce the opening of the Bucheon Art Center, Bucheon's landmark, that boasts the best sound quality in the country," he said.

A press conference takes places at Bucheon Art Center's Concert Hall on Thursday. (BAC) A press conference takes places at Bucheon Art Center's Concert Hall on Thursday. (BAC)

The idea of building an art center came about in 1995, but it was only in 2016 that a concrete plan was established after it was decided that the art center would be built on the city hall site, which was previously used as a tennis court, a basketball court and a parking lot. The construction took three years from June 2019 to July 2022.

The art center, located right next to Bucheon City Hall, features a 1,450-seat concert hall, a 300-seat black-box theater and a large orchestral rehearsal room. It is home to the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the leading regional orchestras, and the Bucheon Civic Chorale.

BAC’s concert hall is among seven public concert halls in the country with more than 1,000 seats. It is dedicated to classical music and equipped with a pipe organ.

Bucheon, located southwest of Seoul, is a city with a population of approximately 850,000. It has demonstrated a strong commitment to developing itself as a culture-focused city, evident through its hosting of an international film festival and an international animation festival.

The art center is designed by Arup, a multinational firm known for numerous iconic structures and landmarks around the world, including the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Bird's Nest Stadium built for the Beijing Olympics.

The company was selected following an architectural design competition and has supported the project’s architecture and wider design teams in collaboration with Hong Seong-kyu, who led the architectural design on behalf of Haenglim and DMP.

Bucheon Art Center's Concert Hall (BAC) Bucheon Art Center's Concert Hall (BAC)

The acoustic design of the BAC was handled by Arup’s Tateo Nakajima, who has been involved in major art venue projects worldwide, including the National Forum of Music in Wroclaw, Poland and Esplanade -- Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, among many others.

"​​Our vision for the Bucheon Arts Center was based on both the artistic focus of the BPO and on references to Korean culture, language and social character," Nakajima said at the press conference.

Arup designed six adjustable overhead canopies and a motorized cloth system for the walls, said Nakajima, noting the importance for modern concert halls to properly accommodate a wide range of repertoires, including music from the Baroque and Classical eras, jazz and world music, as well as amplified speech events and semi-staged opera performances. Arup also included smaller, adjustable sound reflectors to support the musicians and enhance the sound experience for the audience, according to Nakajima.

Audiences will finally have the opportunity to experience the diverse sounds offered by the Bucheon Arts Center as it celebrates its opening with a festival titled "BAC Connected." The festival will span nearly three months, commencing with a concert on May 19 featuring the BPO conducted by Chang Yun-sung, along with a lineup of emerging and established musicians.

Following the opening concert, Philippe Herreweghe and the Orchestre des Champs-Elysees will conclude their Korean tour at BAC on May 20. On May 27, the renowned Emerson String Quartet is scheduled to take the stage. On June 13, cellist-turned-conductor Chang Han-na will lead the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Bruce Liu, the winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2021.

The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic and Sumi Jo will captivate the audience on July 8 and the celebrated pianist Cho Jung-jin will grace the concert hall with a recital on July 9.