The Korea Herald


Seoul International Music Festival hopes to be ‘Amusement Park’ of classical music

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Sept. 7, 2021 - 16:32

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Poster image for the 13th Seoul International Music Festival “Amusement Park” (SIMF) Poster image for the 13th Seoul International Music Festival “Amusement Park” (SIMF)
The 13th Seoul International Music Festival, one of the major annual classical music festivals held every autumn in Korea, will take place in October under the title “Amusement Park.”

The festival will take place across Seoul, including the Seoul Arts Center and the Lotte Concert Hall, Oct. 23-30, hoping to offer joy and comfort to classical music audiences hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the global music scene continues to struggle amid the virus crisis, this year’s SIMF will feature new repertoires, presenting three new commissioned works: Nam Sang-bong’s “Mysterious Amusement Park,” Bach-Ryu Jea-joon’s Concertante for 12 cellos, and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires arranged by James Barralet.

The festival will kick off with an opening concert “Ring Ring Ring,” presenting Artistic Director Ryu Jae-joon’s new work Symphony No. 2.

The 75-minute symphony was inspired by Ryu’s nephews and nieces who could not go to school regularly due to the pandemic. Ryu also took inspiration from sonnets written by Shakespeare from when he was isolated due to an outbreak of the bubonic plague.

Though the symphony piece was written amid the pandemic times -- when small sized chamber music became the norm instead of large orchestral performances -- the work involves a full orchestra, multiple vocalists and a choir.

The festival will also give three chamber music performances, each titled “From Deep Forest,” “Water of Brook” and “Mysterious Amusement Park,” presenting works by Schumann, Debussy, Brahms, Strauss and more.

The festival will close with the “Merry-Go-Round” recital, featuring 12 cellists. The cellists -- Song Young, Arto Noras, Dmitry Kouzov, Maja Bogdanovic and more -- will present well-known signature cello repertoires in a grander version. The cellists will take turns onstage like a merry-go-round, presenting Klengel’s Hymnus fur 12 Celli, Op. 57, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for cellos and soprano, along with more works. Soprano Lee Myung-joo will join the stage.

Tickets for the festival will open on Wednesday.