Festival mulls meaning of names

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Festival mulls meaning of names


Classical musicians and students will gather in the scenic resort area of Pyeongchang in Gangwon Province for the upcoming International Great Mountains Music Festival & School. Pictured are musicians with Sejong Soloists taking part in the festival last year. Provided by the organizer

Pacing on her balcony, the heroine of William Shakespeare s Romeo and Juliet engages in a heartfelt soliloquy, uttering her now-famous rhetorical question, What s in a name?

The organizers of the upcoming International Great Mountains Music Festival and School, also known as GMMFS, want people to ponder the same question this summer.

It isn t the love of a man with the name of a warring family that prompted organizers to adopt the question as the event s overarching theme this year.

Rather, it s the names of history s great composers and the titles of their works.

I hope at this year s [festival] participants explore what the names of certain composers or titles of certain pieces entail, Kang Hyo, the festival s artistic director, said at a press conference in central Seoul last week.

Juliet says, That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. I want the festival to be an opportunity to examine how names and titles express the fragrance of the composers and their works, as well as how the fragrance is delivered to the audience, Kang said.

Pretty philosophical, and perhaps even a bit vague, some might say.

But the GMMFS, now in its sixth year, has always had rather complex themes.

Last year the theme centered around the blending of images, text and music. One show featured a performance of Eh Joe, which adopted music by noted Korean-American composer Earl Kim (1920-1988) and combined it with images by Irish dramatist Samuel Beckett (1906-1989).

The organizers of GMMFS aim for performances that encompass not just music but also literature, philosophy and visual art.

As in the past, this year s festival will feature three weeks of classical concerts and music classes at the scenic mountain resort area of Pyeongchang in Gangwon Province.

Only this year, it ll be bigger.

Before we received about 150 students a year, but this year we accepted 183 students and expanded the classes, said Korean cellist Chung Myung-wha, one of the virtuosos participating in the festival.

Chung, now a regular at GMMFS, says she initially planned to participate in just a few events when first working with the festival.

But she just can t help but come back year after year.

For students, it s a great opportunity to learn from renowned teachers without having to travel abroad. For teachers, it s one of the rare, intimate experiences to spend quality time with young musicians, Chung said.

One of the highlights this year is a performance of Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, written by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 1959) over the span of 15 years. Aldo Parisot, a Brazilian-born American cellist who s been teaching at GMMFS from 2004, will be performing the piece.

Other can t-miss pieces include Ghost Opera by Tan Dun a Chinese contemporary classical composer who wrote pieces for movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Voice of the Whale by George Crumb, an American composer of modern and avant-garde music.

Elmar Oliveira, the first and only American violinist to win Moscow s Tchaikovsky International Competition, also will perform at the festival.

The International Great Mountains Music Festival and School runs from Saturday to Aug. 14 in and around the scenic mountain resort area of Pyeongchang in Gangwon Province. For more details, call (033) 253-7497 or visit www.gmmfs.com. Some programs are free, though several require reservations. For reservations call 1588-7890 or visit http://ticketlink.co.kr.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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