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Tongyeong hit with concert cancellations

Tongyeong Music Hall (Tongyeong International Music Festival Foundation)
Tongyeong Music Hall (Tongyeong International Music Festival Foundation)
At least two classical concerts that were slated for later this month at Tongyeong Concert Hall have been canceled due to the highly transmissible omicron variant, but the organizers who are also preparing the Tongyeong International Music Festival in March said that its flagship music gala will take place as planned.

The New York Philharmonic String Quartet, which was scheduled to play at Tongyeong Concert Hall on Sunday will skip the city, which was to have been the first of their performances in Korea, as the quarantine measures affected their schedule. The quartet’s other concerts in Korea, however, will take place as planned.

Violinist Cho Jin-joo and Ensemble Appassionata’s concert on Feb. 26 at Tongyeong Concert Hall was also called off after one of the ensemble members was infected with COVID-19 before leaving for Korea, the organizers said.

The two concerts were prepared by the Tongyeong International Music Festival Foundation, which is gearing up for its annual music festival.

The organizers said they were closely monitoring the pandemic situation and any changes in social distancing measures to avoid canceling the music festival altogether, which marks the 20th anniversary this year.

“There will be no cancellation of the festival because we opened up only half of the seats to leave an empty seat between every audience member, which was the rules under the strictest social distancing measures,” an official at TIMF said. At the moment, there are no specific social distancing rules for concert halls.

However, industry watchers remain cautious as South Korea’s health authorities are on high alert as the country’s daily new COVID-19 infections rose sharply to hit another high of over 57,000 cases Tuesday.

The musical festival will showcase 26 performances between March 25 to April 3, under the theme of “Vision in Diversity,” in the southern coastal city of Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province. Some performances including Tongyeong Festival Orchestra I conducted by Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska, and Novus Quartet, are already sold out.

While the annual music event was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the festival returned last year with strict antivirus and distancing measures in place.

TIMF was founded in 2002 to commemorate the late composer Yun I-sang, who was born in Sancheong, near Tongyeong, in 1917.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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