Classical music festival raises stature of small seaside townBid farewell to winter’s tormenting cold blasts and embrace the warmth of spring with beautiful streams of classical music.
On March 22, as warming breezes begin to flow in from the East Sea, the National Opera of Korea will kick off the Tongyeong International Music Festival with the opera “Geisterliebe” (Love of Spirits), composed by Yun Isang, who hails from this seaside Gyeongsang province town.
In all, 600 outstanding musicians from 10 countries have been invited to perform classical and modern music under three main themes: modern and Bach cello pieces, Night Studio and Schoenberg’s “Gurre-Leider.”
“From the small city of Tongyeong, I hope the spirit of music extends far away, past the limits of space,” said Son Hyun-ju, a festival publicist.
For the first category, three solo cellists ― Matt Haimovitz, Baek Na-young and Natalie Clein ― will each perform two of Bach’s works. Ms. Clein is Britain’s first winner of the Eurovision Competition of Young Musicians.
In the Night Studio category, the Silesian String Quartet, the pianist Park Hue-am and accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti will fill listeners’ ears with modern music, aiming to create a romantic atmosphere.
The performances of “Gurre-Leider” are on a large scale, and will take place in the 880-seat main hall of the Tongyeong Arts Center.
On March 24, the Julliard-trained Ahn sisters ― Angella on violin, Lucia on piano, and Maria on cello ― will perform for a festival audience before traveling to Seoul, where they will perform with the Parsons Dance Coimpany (see story at the top of this page).
Since 1987, the Ahns have been featured in the New York Times, America’s NBC and PBS television and GQ and Vogue magazines. The Los Angeles Times praised them by saying, “A dominant musical gene has obviously left its imprint on the sisters Ahn.”
Another performance on the festival schedule is “Water Passion After St. Matthew” by the Chinese-born composer Tan Dun, written in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 250th birthday.
To the sound of water dropping into 17 clear Plexiglas bowls laid out in the shape of a cross, Tan Dun aspires to deliver a story of Christ’s suffering, from the Last Supper to his crucifixion. It’s the first such performance in Asia for this Oscar-winning musician.
The highlight of the main Opening Festival is TIMF Fringe, where amateurs and pros alike perform. While all performing slots are full, the chance to listen to diverse forms of music ― choirs, ensembles, bands, street performances, rock, jazz, traditional music ― by musicians of varied levels and ages remains.
Since it began in 2000 in honor of the renowned composer Yun Isang, the Tongyeong International Music Festival has established a name for itself around the world.
The Opening Festival and TIMF Fringe run from March 22 to 27, Seasonal Events run on April 7, June 20, and August 30, and a finale featuring the New York Philharmonic Orchestra takes place Oct. 16.
by Kim Soo-young
For tickets and more information, call (02) 6303-5700 or (055) 645-2137 (English speakers available) or go to www.timf.org.