Saturday, July 16, 2011

Engaging with Arts during Vacation

The Sejong Center for the Performing Arts opens its summer vacation program today, targeting children and parents looking to spend quality time together through learning more about different art genres.

This year, the center will place focus on covering different kinds of music, starting with classical, “gugak” (traditional Korean music), choir music, as well as art exhibitions, dance performances and operas.

The program will start with a first-ever concert by Philharmonischer Kinderchor Dresden, a renowned German children’s choir, and continue through late August.

A musical journey

Philharmonischer Kinderchor Dresden is making its first appearance in Seoul today. The choir is one of the most recognized children’s choirs in the world. Consisting of around 100 singers, the choir is currently led by conductor Jurgen Becker.

Dresden has a venerable tradition in classical music as home to Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the world’s oldest orchestras founded in 1548.

The choir has worked with important conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur and Sir Colin Davis.

It will perform pieces by Schubert, Mendelssohn and folk music from Russia, Israel and Africa. Also, the group will sing a selection of Korean songs, like “Arirang” and a new composition by Korean composer Lee Young-jo, a faculty member at the Korea National University of Arts.

Tickets range from 10,000 to 100,000 won. Teenagers receive a 50 percent discount.

Concerts with commentary

To become familiar with classical music, one good way is to attend a concert where the conductor also takes on the role of a teacher, providing commentary after each performance.

This form of concert has become increasingly popular worldwide and most major orchestras are organizing such programs to widen access to classical music, particularly for younger age groups. It is also a good opportunity for a fast and easy introduction for grown-ups to popular classical works and instruments.

The Seoul Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (SMYO) will hold a concert with commentary on Aug. 12-13, featuring pieces by Ravel and Prokofiev.

Founded in 1984, the orchestra is now made up of 120 young musicians and has served as an effective springboard for more than 600 musicians, who now play at orchestras at home and abroad. Since 1987, concert tours have taken the orchestra to Hawaii, New York and Japan.

Tickets range from 5,000 won to 30,000 won. Call (02) 399-1790.

Ballet and opera

A series of ballet and opera performances will take place from Aug. 13 to 21 at the Dream Forest Art Center in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul.

These concerts will also come with commentary from pianist Kim Yong-bae and ballerino Lee Won-guk, one of the foremost male Korean ballet dancers. Their joint project will introduce major operas like “Don Pasquale,” an opera buffa, or comic opera, in three acts by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848); “Cavalleria Rusticana” (Rustic chivalry) an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) as well as popular pieces from popular ballet music.

To post questions about the concert, log on to and they will be present their answers on stage.

Call (02) 2289-5401 for more information.

Traditional Korean music

A concert of “gugak,” or traditional Korean music, will be held Aug. 10 by the Seoul Metropolitan Youth Traditional Music Orchestra.

Featuring top gugak artists, the concert will combine traditional dance and collaborations with Western instruments like the saxophone.

The orchestra has created new string music for Korean instruments that are modern yet have bases in traditional Korean music to popularize gukak. It has also brought gugak to Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, France, and Russia.

The Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Music Orchestra, the oldest gugak group in the country, will hold a concert entitled “Journey Into the History of Sound” Aug. 9. The concert will focus on introducing popular gugak tunes appearing in textbooks for parents and students.

On the sidelines, a taekwondo exhibition will take place.

A concert will be held at the Seoul Namsan Gugakdang, an exclusive gugak hall, featuring Benjamin Britten’s orchestral works played with Korean traditional instruments.

British composer Benjamin Britten (1813-1976) is known for the “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” an orchestral work based on the music of the Baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695).

It is one of the most popular pieces used in children’s music education, as in the case of TV series hosted by U.S. conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who now leads the San Francisco Symphony.

For more information, visit or call (02) 399-1114.

Source: The Korea Times

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