Event planner aims to change culture

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Event planner aims to change culture


Composer and event organizer Park Chang-soo says he fills his life by trying out experiments. By Kwon Hyuk-jae

It is not common for an event organizer to host as many as 13 concerts in a day, but Park Chang-soo has accomplished this feat. Over the last four years, the music director and composer has focused on choosing the right concept for each show he has planned and invited various musicians to take part.

Ironically, he claims the reason he puts on so many concerts is to improve the quality of music performances.

Park became an influential figure in the music industry when he created the concept of a mini concert after organizing a performance at his house in Yeonhui-dong, western Seoul, in 2002.

In the past, he has opened as many as 100 concerts in 21 theaters within one week. In addition, he once even hosted 94 concerts at the same time in three different countries - Korea, China and Japan. And Park is aiming to beat his own record this year. He will dramatically increase the number of concerts he hosts for “One Month Festival,” which is scheduled for all of July. For the event, 432 performances in 27 countries have been planned, in which around 1,500 domestic and international performers will take part. Diverse performances such as piano recitals and jazz concerts will be staged in different venues, from an elementary school assembly hall to a church in England.

Even though Park’s achievement in event organization is astonishing, he is still continuously attempting to put on an even larger number of performances. The JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, interviewed the man to delve into why.

Q. What makes you host so many concerts?

A. I want to change the cultural environment. Right now, there are not enough stages for music performers. The audience does not have proper judgment on good music and the administrative agencies are not competent enough to create proper cultural lives for them.

Isn’t it more correct to say that there is not enough of an audience for a performance instead of saying there are not enough stages for performers?

That’s not true. Nine out of 10 performers claim they value performance opportunities over money. I started studying composing in Germany and saw many musicians [there] who had excellent skills .?.?. I realized their ability, however, was gradually lost on their return to Korea due to the lack of chances to perform. To make it worse, the audience usually only attend concerts of highly renowned musicians, which can’t move them. In addition, I want to show the government agency that an individual like me can also host abundant concerts by using diverse content. It is wonderful for Korea to hold international concerts.

How did you establish a network of as many as 1,500 musicians around the world?

I have been building up my credibility with performers by trying out various attempts [at organizing events], which eventually connected me to foreign artists. I got a call from performers in Sapporo last night saying that they want to take part in the upcoming festival. In fact, half the musicians contacted me to express their desire to join the upcoming event.

What made you become a trustworthy person among musicians?

I gave them chance to perform instead of money. For me, I don’t give more guarantees to musicians who are better performers, I give them the opportunity to appear on stage. Basically, the violinist Chung Kyung-wha is paid the same guarantee as a 14-year-old performer. The only difference is that more skillful musicians are given more opportunities to hold more concerts. I’m pursuing this system as I want to change the structure of the guarantee payment system [where renowned musicians are paid more than less-renowned artists] in the Korean music industry.

Are you working based on a sense of duty or patriotism?

I’m doing what I do because I see something that isn’t right. I also want to show through the upcoming festival that events that are not controlled by money also exist. I received 90 million won ($81,000) from Korean Culture and Arts Committee for July’s festival, but I earned nothing as all the money went to paying for guarantees of musicians and printing and sending out posters. I even had to use my personal money.

Have you ever made a profit from being performance planner?

I almost earned a profit last year, but it went back to zero after I spent the money on holding free concerts. Even with a profit as small as 10 won, I want to use that for music. After achieving my future goal of opening 5,000 performances around 2017, I will disappear from the public. I’ve even looked up a place in Yeongyang in North Gyeongsang.

BY KIM HO-JUNG [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]
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