[ON STAGE]Suwon dusts off Tchaikovsky

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[ON STAGE]Suwon dusts off Tchaikovsky

The seventh installment of the Seoul Arts Center's spring orchestra festival, held Monday, drew a surprisingly large crowd considering the "yellow dust" phenomenon that closed schools and kept most people home-bound. During the performance by the Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, the audience went silent as soon as the bandmaster hit the first key; but during the intermissions the concertgoers erupted in their own chorus of sneezing and coughing.

The Suwon Philharmonic gave a strong and subtle performance, marred only by a few moments when the orchestra and its guest solo violinist, Ko-woon Yang, fell out of sync during Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major op.35 ?a highly complicated composition. The group proved that the humble nature of Suwon doesn't mean the city can't field a respectable orchestra. Suwon, a small satellite of Seoul, is known mostly for its barbecued beef, and its orchestra is generally considered inferior to the bigger ones like Seoul's or Busan's.

The Seoul Arts Center's festival began early this month with a concert by the Jeju Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra. Concerts by the orchestras from Bucheon, Daegu, Seoul, Jeonju, Incheon, Busan, Gwangju and Ulsan followed. The series wraps up Friday with a show by the Korea Symphony Orchestra.

Monday's program consisted entirely of works by Tchaikovsky. It began with "Overture Solenelle 1812" ?which worked as a modest warm-up for the enthusiastic crowd. At the end of each selection, a local music critic, Yun Young-sook, appeared onstage decked out in 19th-century Russian attire. He proceeded to describe in clear terms Tchaikovsky's artistic background and the situations in which he composed his works.

When the guest performer, Ko-woon Yang of the Bucheon Philharmonic, appeared onstage with Suwon's conductor, Park Eun-sung, some of the surprised audience stood and cheered and whistled. But Yang's performance fell short of expectations; she seemed to have difficulties playing the violin concerto, a famously tough number. The selection may have been overambitious.

The night closed with the stirring Symphony No. 6 in B minor "Pathetique."

The Friday finale of the series features the cellist Yoo-hong Lee. For more information, call the Seoul Arts Center at 02-580-1130.

by Park Soo-mee

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