Liberation Day concert adds K-pop

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Liberation Day concert adds K-pop

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The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performs the Beethoven symphony cycle under the baton of Daniel Barenboim during last year’s “DMZ Peace Concert” on the country’s Liberation Day at Imjingak in Paju, Gyeonggi. [JoongAng Ilbo]


If Aug. 15 - Korea’s Liberation Day - has become just another day off work, maybe this is the year to get back in the celebratory mood by attending the “DMZ Peace Concert” at Imjingak near the Demilitarized Zone along the 38th parallel.

Although it’s a symbol of agony for displaced people living near the border, the DMZ turns into a concert venue once a year.

Last year, MBC together with Paju and the Gyeonggi Tourism Organization decided to organize the “DMZ Peace Concert” in an effort to “deliver a message of peace through music.”

Under the baton of renowned conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performed the Beethoven symphony cycle during the three-day concert in front of about 10,000 people.

Following last year’s success, the organizer announced plans to “popularize” this year’s concert by inviting K-pop stars.

“To take a more familiar and accessible approach, we’ve decided to focus this year’s concert on popular appeal,” said Hwang Seok-ho, a special planning team leader of MBC Seoul and Incheon branch, during a press conference late last month.

On the first day of the concert Aug. 14, K-pop starts including boy bands SHINee and Beast; girl groups T-ara, f(x) and Sistar; and new faces Ailee and A-Pink will perform under the theme of “We Are the Peace Generation.” Veteran vocalist Bobby Kim will also appear.

Following the evening of K-pop, the Aug. 15 concert will present performances by virtuosos of classical music.

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From left :Singer Bobby Kim, Violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill and Pianist Julius-Jeongwon Kim


Internationally renowned violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill, who enjoys near pop-star status in Korea, will team with cellist Song Young-hoon and pianist Julius-Jeongwon Kim to perform with the Tongyeong International Music Festival Orchestra.

The 33-year-old O’Neill, an American artist with a Korean mother, is the first violist to receive an Artist Diploma from the Juilliard School and is currently serving on the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Singer Sung Si-kyung, whose soft voice has attracted a sizable female following, will also participate in a collaborative performance.

The program for the second concert will include Dmitry Shostakovich’s “Waltz”; Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2”; and Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion and Libertango.”

The musicians will also perform John Lennon’s “Imagine” and a traditional folk song that is sure to put a lump in any Korean’s throat, the “Arirang.”

According to organizers, the outdoor concerts will be free of charge and there will be no limit on the number of people who can attend.

As a prelude to the concert, MBC organized a “DMZ Walkathon,” which began Wednesday. Thirty people, including teenage North Korean defectors, multicultural families and children of soldiers, began their journey from Gangwon and will arrive at the DMZ concert site Aug. 14. - hopefully in time for the first song.

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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