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Classical music stars enliven Busan this week

Pianist Sergei Babayan to lead rich list of musicians

International and Korea-based classical musicians will put the spotlight on Busan this week, as they gather in the southeastern port city of Korea to hold eight different concerts.

The 6th Busan International Music Festival kicked off Sunday at the Paradise Hotel with a chamber concert. The week-long event runs through Feb. 20 at the Busan Cultural Center and Haeundae Cultural Center, offering a variety of concerts including chamber music, recitals and ensembles, the event organizer Busan Arts Management said.

Coming into its sixth year, the festival this time has invited 50 international and local artists including top-class soloists in piano, violin, viola and cello, and 31 members of Ensemble TIMF, which was originally set up to promote the Tongyeong International Music Festival.

The most anticipated event is that of Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan, who is to hold his first recital in Korea. The program includes Vladimire Ryabov’s Fantasia in C minor Op. 21, Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major Op. 55 No. 2, Etude in C-sharp minor Op. 25, No. 7 and Rachmaninov’s Melodia Op. 21, No. 9. 
Pianist Sergei Babayan. (The Busan International Music Festival)
Pianist Sergei Babayan. (The Busan International Music Festival)

“The Busan International Music Festival has selected Babayan as one of the most globally-active pianists,” the organizer said in a statement.

“His extraordinary techniques and perfect control will resonate deeply with the audience,” it said, adding that his recital has been strongly recommended by the festival’s music director and pianist Paik Hae-sun. Babayan is to perform on Feb. 16 in Busan Cultural Center’s Main Hall and the ticket costs between 20,000 won and 40,000 won. 
Pianist and music director Baik Hae-sun. (The Busan International Music Festival)
Pianist and music director Baik Hae-sun. (The Busan International Music Festival)

Baritone Park Heung-woo and pianist Shin Soo-jung, who have been collaborating in year-end concerts for the past several years, are to showcase Schubert’s “Complete Wintereise” on Feb. 15 at the same concert venue.

Ensenble TIMF is to perform Vivaldi Concerto for four violins with violinists Lucie Robert, Kim Nam-yun, Yang Ko-woon and Kim Dong-uck on Feb. 18 at the same venue. The ensemble is also to collaborate with prodigy pianist Cho Sung-jin for Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20.

Rising pianist star Song Yu-jin is to hold a recital featuring Schuman, Beethoven and more on Feb. 17.

The finale concert on Feb. 20 will be Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25, staged by pianist and music director Baik, violinist Lucie Robert, violist Hsin-Yun Huang and cellist David Geber.

Music students are encouraged to participate in the “Music Academy” program during the festival, in which professional musicians share their musical skills through two teaching sessions each day ― a morning session between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and an afternoon session between 2:00 p.m. and 5 p.m. For more information and ticket inquiries, call (051) 740-5833 or visit

By Kim Yoon-mi (
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Korea Herald daum