[ON STAGE]Avante-garde for everybody

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[ON STAGE]Avante-garde for everybody

Many Koreans dismiss the contemporary arts as too radical or abstruse. Public education for the modern arts is limited and contemporary arts shows organized for nonprofessionals often end up being in-house parties for people in the industry.

But an attempt to overcome those obstacles will be made next month in the form of a contemporary music festival kicking off May 3 in Seoul and Suwon.

The "2002 Asian Music in the New Millennium" show will feature important musicians like the cellist Jang Hannah, the pianist Aki Takahashi and the violinist Vivian Hagner. Despite the name, many European ensembles have also been invited to perform works composed by contemporary musicians.

The organizers, to facilitate understanding of contemporary classical music, will conduct informative sessions for the public, giving background details about the composers and works on the program.

The festival is the latest installment of the Asian Contemporary Music Festival, which was first held in 1973 and is staged every other year. This is the second time that Korea will host the show. Typically, the festival consists exclusively of performances by Asian contemporary composers from the Asian member countries. But this year is an exception, as artists from countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand will perform.

Though the name may be unfamiliar for most Koreans, the event has always been an important venue for young Asian composers to present new works and build networks.

The festival is a mix of widely varying musical styles and contents. On May 4, a computer music concert will be staged at the Rodin Gallery by the German group Hochschule fur Kunste Bremen Studio fur Electronic Music. On May 8, a concert by groups from the Netherlands will feature "Circle With Four Trios" by Tan Dun a composer who recorded the sound track for the international blockbuster movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

The festival's opening ceremony at the Seoul Arts Center will showcase the Korean Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Seung Kwak, with guest appearances by the violinist Hanna Chung and the gayageum (Korean zither) expert Aeri Ji. For schedules, call 2290-1220 (English available). The festival ends May 9.

by Park Soo-mee

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