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Top spring chamber music festival to highlight bigger ensembles

With theme 'The More, The Merrier,' Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music offers 13 performances by 65 artists

By Park Ga-young

Published : March 20, 2023 - 15:21

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Kang Dong-Suk, violinist and the artistic director of the Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music (left), performs with pianist Mun Ji-yeong (center) and cellist Kang Seung-min during a SSFC's concert that took place at the house of former president Yun Po-sun on May 2, 2022. (Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music) Kang Dong-Suk, violinist and the artistic director of the Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music (left), performs with pianist Mun Ji-yeong (center) and cellist Kang Seung-min during a SSFC's concert that took place at the house of former president Yun Po-sun on May 2, 2022. (Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music)

The Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music, a highly anticipated annual event led by violinist Kang Dong-suk, is set to return bigger this May with the theme, "The More, The Merrier!," featuring larger ensembles than in previous years.

Going beyond traditional small chamber music ensembles, this year’s festival will offer a variety of sextets, septets and octets, according to the festival's organizers on Monday. The festival will commence April 26 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts with an opening performance titled "Sextet Fanfare," and conclude on May 7 with "Octet Odyssey.”

“One of the goals of the Seoul Spring Chamber Music Festival is to introduce a repertoire that is not well-known to the public,” Kang said. “So, I’m glad to introduce this year pieces that may not be familiar to either audiences or performers alike, but that have a treasure-like value.”

During almost two weeks of festivities, 65 artists -- including a mime artist -- will take to the stage for 13 performance at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts, Seoul Arts Center and in the garden of former President Yun Po-sun's house. The house concert, the most popular program of the festival, has been expanded to two performance since 2022 to accommodate high demand. This year, the house concerts will take place on May 1 and May 5.

This year’s edition will showcase interesting programs like "Opus 18," "Beethoven’s Social Network" and "Four for Four."

The "Opus 18" program will celebrate the 18th edition of the festival with Op. 18 pieces by different composers: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in Bb Major, Op. 18, Saint-Saens’s Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 18 and Brahms’ Sextet No. 1 in Bb Major, Op. 18. "Opus 18" will feature 13 musicians including members of Arete Quartet, the first-prize winner in the string quartet category at the 15th International Mozart Competition in 2023, and cellist Choi Ha-young, who became the first Korean to receive the top honor in cello at the Queen Elisabeth Competition last year.

"Beethoven’s Social Network" gathers music by four musicians: Haydn, Ries, Mozart and Hummel. Haydn was Beethoven's teacher and Ries was his pupil. Both Hummel and Beethoven took lessons from Salieri. Even though they never met, Mozart and Beethoven knew of each other well.

"Four for Four" features four quartet performances including Double Bass Quartet No. 2 in D Major by Franz Anton Hoffmeister.

“Universal Language: Music and Mime,” a concert designed to appeal to all members of the family, is scheduled to take place May 6 at Seoul Arts Center. It will be a combination of a mime performance by Ireneusz Krosny and four classical music pieces, including Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, 6th movement and Hofmann’s Octet for Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon & Horn in F Major, Op. 80, 3rd movement.

Since its launch in 2006, the festival has taken place every year, even at the height of the pandemic in 2020 when the festival was moved to the fall. Last year’s festival focused on the cello under the theme of “Cellissimo!” The highlights of last year’s event will be revived in the April 30 concert at Seoul Art Center.

Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won for all concerts except for the two concerts at the house of Yun Po-sun which cost 200,000 won per ticket.

Poster of the 2023 edition of Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music (Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music) Poster of the 2023 edition of Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music (Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music)