[FOUNTAIN]How an artist creates life through music

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[FOUNTAIN]How an artist creates life through music

Music is an art of transformation. Transformation is the technique of changing light into music, dream into reality and color into time. Through the transformation, people can taste freshness, pleasure, warmth and spiritual freedom. Chin Un-suk, 44, is a composer of transformation. Last year, she received the Grawemeyer Award, the Nobel Prize equivalent in the musical world. Earlier this month, she was named as the recipient of the prestigious Arnold Schoenberg Prize. The Germany-based composer has recently made her first visit to her homeland in three years.
Ms. Chin has consciously pursued the aesthetics of transformation. At the end of the transformation awaits plays and fairy tales. So her contemporary music is hardly abstruse but jolly and playful. “Gestalten,” meaning figures, a piece that made her famous, was also a product of imaginative transformation.
As a student at Seoul National University, she submitted the piece as a mid-term project, which was selected for the ISCM World Music Days in 1984. She said at the time that she had transformed the impression from three paintings of Paul Klee into music.
Indeed, the cubist painter Paul Klee had used triangles and rectangles to describe human figures, and Ms. Chin changed the geometric shapes she found in the stationary painting into a melody, which is a flow of time.
From her first CD release, you can listen to the process of a conversation evolving into divided parts until finally being transformed into notes as time goes by. The reality, or conversation, is changing into an art form or notes. By mixing the sounds of 17 instruments, including violin, piano and percussion, with electronic sounds, she amazingly recreated the sound of breath coming out of a mouth. A life is born from the music.
Ms. Chin has concentrated on the theme of “Alice in Wonderland.” The motif of the first piece of her CD, “Game of Words,” is also “Alice in Wonderland.” The children’s book is a world of endless transformation, fun, surprises and warmth. She is whispering to her audience to find the energy of life with the imagination of transformation.
She adds, “In the wonderland of Alice, the logics of daily lives are completely overturned. Musically expressing the overturn is a very attractive process.”
Ms. Chin is giving a special lecture to explain her musical world at Kumho Art Hall in Gwanghwamun on March 25. Let’s spare some time in the afternoon to share her energizing imagination of transformation.


by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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