The Korea Herald


SAC Summer Music Festival set to present variety while establishing prominence

By Park Ga-young

Published : Aug. 17, 2023 - 18:55

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Poster for the final concert of the Seoul Arts Center's Summer Music Festival (SAC) Poster for the final concert of the Seoul Arts Center's Summer Music Festival (SAC)

Seoul Arts Center’s annual Summer Music Festival is back with more diversity as it returns to its original goal of becoming a leading international summer music festival, organizers said Thursday.

For this year’s festival, SAC will present a diverse array of genres, ranging from baroque to contemporary composers to jazz. The lineup will feature musicians with both domestic and overseas backgrounds, encompassing both emerging artists and seasoned performers. This includes South Korean pianist Paik Kun-woo, Spanish conductor Antonio Mendez, Russian-born British violinist Viktoria Mullova, Trio Wanderer and a total of 10 teams selected from about 250 applications in an open call.

"As we move past the pandemic, we’re returning to our original goal of becoming a leading international music festival," Kim Min, chairperson of the festival’s organizing committee, told reporters on Thursday.

For the previous two festivals, which took place in August 2021 and 2022 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program focused on nurturing new, young, domestic musicians and giving them a chance to perform at one of the country’s finest concert halls, as they could not invite overseas musicians. The SAC said that for this year, the selection criteria have been expanded beyond emerging domestic musicians alone and to encompassing both genre diversity and the creativity of the proposed performances.

"As a musician who came back to South Korea about a year ago, creating a performance featuring solely Steve Reich's program and bringing it to a prominent stage like Seoul Arts Center is a significant opportunity for me and other artists who aren’t well-known in South Korea or who have just embarked on their careers," said Lee Won-suk, a percussionist and a member of sutidoPHASE. SutidoPHASE is one of the 10 teams that were selected through the open call.

Pianist Paik will perform the closing concert, in addition to a special ensemble performance on Aug. 23, which will gather violinists Song ji-won, Lee Marisol and Lee So-ran, violist Shin Kyung-sik and cellist Moon Tae-guk.

For the opening and closing concerts, on Aug. 22 and Aug. 27, respectively, Mendez will pick up the baton for the SAC Festival Orchestra, consisting of Korean musicians who perform in various orchestras during the regular Sept. to June season, including Lee Ji-hye, head of the second violins at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, who will assume the role of the festival orchestra’s concertmaster.

“Every time I conduct around the world, there are always great Korean musicians. Bringing them together as one orchestra is special and I’m looking forward to synergies and energies that the orchestra members will create,” Mendez said.

The SAC Summer Music Festival will take place Aug. 22-27, fully utilizing three performances halls of the SAC: the Concert Hall, IBK Chamber Hall and Recital Hall. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won ($15) to 90,000 won.