Subway stress? Relax with underground music

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Subway stress? Relax with underground music

Riding the Korean subways is not only about struggling against surging crowds and flashing a few sharp elbows. It can be a place to get your afternoon art fix.

Under the theme "Underground Art Stage," the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation is sponsoring a series of concerts on a small but cozy scale. Passengers can appreciate a variety of live music performances from the tunnels and passageways of subway lines Nos. 1 to 4 and 6. Each performance lasts about an hour every day, except on Saturdays when there are more than three concerts.

Recently at Euljiro 1-ga Station, an ensemble of classic guitar and piano was playing "On Top of the World," on a small amphitheater-like stage. The ensemble, with amateur players, may not make anyone forget the Carpenters, but it seems to fill the artistic hunger of more than 50 spectators.

Jeong Seong-jin, an organizer of the event, told the Joong-Ang Ilbo English Edition that she first came up with the idea three years ago to promote small-time artists. Starting this month, the Underground Art Stage returns once again. Included this year are a 27-year-old jazz pianist, a family giving a traditional percussion performance and Peruvian folk music.

Oswaldo Barrera, who flew from Peru to Seoul's subway stations, joined the event in June and played to the end of July. Invited by a Korean trader dealing in South American musical instruments, Mr. Barrera has also performed in England, Germany and Poland.

"It's a good opportunity both for spectators and for performers," Mr. Barrera says. "Station employees meddling over trifles were a bit uncomfortable, but not enough to overshadow the original purpose." Barrera says he hopes to return in October.

Seon Na-young, a professional traditional dancer, took part in the event as well. "Generally, my spectators on stages are all industry people, so this Underground Art Stage attracted me a lot, in that I can share my performance with the real public," she says.

by Chun Su-jin

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