Music in the mountains

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Music in the mountains


From left: Cellist Chung Myung-wha, Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation Chairman Kim Sung-hwan and violinist Chung Kyung-wha pose at a press conference for the Great Mountains International Music Festival and School on Monday at the Millennium Seoul Hilton, central Seoul. Provided by the GMMFS

Under a cool breeze, the nation’s largest and most established classical festival, the Great Mountains International Music Festival and School, is ready to take its audience on a relaxing journey in the mountainous city of Pyeongchang, Gangwon.

While last year’s theme revolved around the music of northern Europe, the festival has veered toward the southern part of the continent this time under the theme of “O Sole Mio,” especially focusing on the sunny sides of Italy and Spain, which many classical music virtuosos took inspiration from.

“Without Italy, there can be no talk of art,” said violinist Chung Kyung-wha during a press conference held Monday at the Millennium Seoul Hilton in central Seoul. Once again, Kyung-wha co-directed the festival with her older sister, Myung-wha.

“Starting with the Greek and Roman myths and civilization, Italy is where [Antonio] Stradivari, the master of string instruments, stayed during his musical career,” said Myung-wha. “Mozart, Schumann and Tchaikovsky were all taken by the dazzling sunshine of the Mediterranean.”

In addition to the music of Italy, Spanish sounds will be part of the festival’s main theme. The distinguished melodies and somewhat mournful atmosphere, which partially derives from the nation’s Gypsy culture, will provide the audience in Korea with a fresh look at the music of the region.


Belen Cabanes

On July 24, when the festival’s renowned “Distinguished Artists Series” starts, attendees will be able to check out the event’s central theme. The stage will host Barcelona-based dancer and castanet player Belen Cabanes, accompanied by Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang’s guitar version of Boccherini’s Guitar Quintet. On July 30, Cabanes will give another performance on “Spanish Night,” which will also include more unique entertainment devoted to Spanish music.

The festival will also continue its music summer camp, where it brings young classical music aficionados from all around the world and provides them with lessons from world-renowned musicians.

“What was noticeable in our summer camp is that the students were highly motivated to see their role models perform before their eyes. It would have been like seeing themselves in the future,” said Kyung-wha, adding they had to reject some 100 talented students due to limited capacity over the past few years.

As for the festival’s long-term goal, Kim Sung-hwan, the newly appointed chairman of the Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation, said that gaining financial stability is a priority for him.

“Although there is support from the nation and Gangwon, we still need to expand the number of sponsors in order to take the festival to the next level by inviting many more top-notch musicians from foreign countries,” said Kim.

*The festival is from July 15 to Aug. 5 at Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, and nearby venues. The concerts start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 70,000 won ($39 to $69). For more information, call (02) 725-3394 or visit

BY jin eun-soo, contributing writer []

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