[Outlook]The destiny symphonyRecently, there was a special concert in a hall at the National Museum of Korea. The concert was celebrated because the renowned conductor Jung Myong-hoon and his youngest son took part. However the heroes were neither Jung nor his son, they were the members of Busan Boystown Symphony Orchestra.
Boystown, established in 1969, is home to around 450 orphans, ranging in age from preschool to college. The institute is run by the Sisters of Mary, an order founded in Korea. Kim Byung-ji, the former goal keeper of the Korean national soccer team, lived at Boystown when he was a high school student and has helped to make the place well-known.
The Boystown Symphony Orchestra was set up in 1979. American priest Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz created a string orchestra and that gave birth to the symphony orchestra.
The symphony orchestra consists of students or graduates from Aloysius Middle School and Aloysius Technical High School.
At first, they planned to play as accompaniment to choral masses. But in 1990, for the first time, they received an award at a music contest for students from across the country.
Since then, the Boystown Symphony Orchestra has kept winning prizes at all sorts of music contests. In 1999, the famed violinist Jang Young-ju visited Boystown and played with the orchestra, making its members feel confident that they could play even better. In 2000, the Boystown Symphony Orchestra could, at last, play to the outside world.
That was a moving concert. The twists and turns of their destinies must have flown past their eyes as the boys held their bows for the violins, violas and cellos with their tanned, dried hands or put their lips to their flutes, oboes and clarinets.
Their mothers and fathers, who had no choice but to leave their children at Boystown, must have gone through all kinds or hardships and ordeals.
Looking at the boys play their violins and flutes, the instruments which are usually played by the children of rich families, I could only imagine what they had gone through. Every movement of their fingers made me deeply emotional and choked with tears.
In the first part of the concert, when the orchestra started to play Ludwig van Beethoven’s Destiny Symphony with Jung as conductor, I couldn’t stop my tears. I cried but not because I felt sorry for them. I cried because I felt grateful for them and I truly praised the boys who had started from the bottom and made their lives stunning and glorious.
Music critics might point out weaknesses in their music. But the sounds they made penetrated my heart.
It was more than the sounds of their instruments. I could hear their struggling souls. I could hear that they are doing their best to produce their own sounds and refuse to be crushed by their hard lives. This made me cry.
Their violins, violas, flutes and oboes resonated with their attempts to overcome their situations and their destiny. They were overcoming their fate by playing the Destiny Symphony.
The instruments in their hands were not of the best quality by any standards. But they were making the best of their lives.
The members of the Boystown Symphony Orchestra made us all realize that a good life is not created by inherited status but through a love of life and by not giving up on our dreams.
The concert the boys played was the most beautiful I have ever heard.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong