Koreans and Japanese to Raise Their Voices, but Not in Anger

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Koreans and Japanese to Raise Their Voices, but Not in Anger

The 2001 Seoul International Music Festival takes place at the concert hall of the Seoul Arts Center from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2. The festival presents many different kinds of "classical" music - from traditional Korean court music and choral pieces, to classical orchestral and symphonic works from Europe. International musicians and choirs will perform alongside their Korean counterparts.

The festival, which has a 24-year history, is noteworthy this year - for political reasons. While the storm over the distorted Japanese history textbooks continues to rage, the Korean government expressed its outrage by canceling scheduled cultural exchange programs between Japan and Korea. This festival, originally planned to celebrate next year's Korea-Japan World Cup, will include performances by several Japanese musicians, and will go ahead despite the political tempest.

On Sept. 1, a Night of Classical Music by Korean and Japanese Musicians will see artists from both nations on one stage. Conducted by Kim Bong and accompanied by the Gangnam Symphony Orchestra, musicians wil perform a concerto and choral pieces.

The violinists Kim Nam-youn and Senju Mariko will perform Bach's "Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor" and pianists Kim Dae-jin and Mihune Yuoko will present Mozart's "Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro."

In the choral ensemble on the same day, amateur choirs from Yokohama and Seoul will be on stage. They will each sing choral works of their own nations. Later, in an event perhaps specifically planned to demonstrate unity and harmony in the face of the political crisis, the Korean choir will sing the Japanese song "Home" and the Japanese choir will sing a well-known Korean piece, "Geuriwun Geumgansan" ("My Dear Old Mount Geumgang").

Another Korean-Japanese collaboration will take place on Aug. 29, when Jung Chi-young will conduct the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra to the strains of Akira Wakabayasi on the piano, on the festival's Night of Bartok.

On Aug. 30, Summer Night Sonata will feature the cellist Lluise Claret and the violinist Brain Suits. The following night, the Liepzig Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Morten Shuldt-Yensen, will play some of Vivaldi's classics. On Sept. 2, the Korean Symphony Orchestra will play A Night of Beethoven, accompanied by Lee Kyoung-sook on the piano, Lee Kyung-seon and Im Ji-eun on violin, and Kim Hak-young on oboe.

The Seoul International Music Festival was first held in 1975 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the restoration of Korean independence. In 1986, the Korea Broadcasting Station took over the festival, changing its name to the Seoul International Music Festival.

In 1991, the festival went back under the stewardship of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, where it encountered a funding crisis and was almost axed. A state subsidy from the culture and arts fund rescued the festival, which then reclaimed its original name was restored.

Since 1993, under the sponsorship of the Korean Music Association and Seoul Arts Center, the music festival has been held every other year.

Tickets for festival events cost between 10,000 won ($7.75) and 40,000 won. For reservations, call the Seoul Arts Center at 02-580-1300, or 02-780-6400 for English service.

by Lee Jang-jik

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