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Paik Hae-sun to return to Korea for recitals

Feb. 13, 2012 - 16:26 By Korea Herald
Paik Hae-sun, one of Korea’s favorite pianists, is well-known for her powerful and large-scale performances that produce great enthusiasm among audience members.

The 46-year-old artist, who left the country in a surprise move seven years ago to concentrate on her performances, says her new life in New York has changed her and her music.

“I used to give dramatic comparison during the recitals, but now I want to play the music with my free spirit and my life full of experiences and feelings,” Paik told reporters in Seoul on Monday.
Pianist Paik Hae-sun (CREDIA)

Paik will hold four recitals in the months to come in four cities across the country. In Busan, Geoje, Seoul and Daegu, she plans to play classic music pieces mostly from French composers that are more romantic and poetic than her previous favorites. These will be her first recitals in Korea since 2009.

The artist will begin the program with the second book of Debussy’s “Images” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great French composer.

She also chose French composer Olivier Messiaen’s “Le Colombe” from Preludes and “Le Loriot (Golden Oriole)” from “Cataolgue of Birds,” and then Beethoven’s Sonata No. 31. The program will conclude with Chopin’s “24 Preludes.”

Paik was the first Korean to win third place at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994 in which no first prize was awarded. She has also won numerous prizes at major international piano competitions such as first prize at the William Kapell International Piano Competition in 1989, and top prizes at the 1990 Leeds International Pianoforte Competition and 1991 Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition. She became one of the youngest professors at Seoul National University in the same year she won the Tchaikovsky competition. But 10 years later, Paik stepped down from her distinguished post, saying she would concentrate on her career as an artist.

“I was struggling with three jobs ― being a mom, a full-time professor who was also asked to handle administrative work other than teaching students and also my career as professional pianist,” Paik said

“I had to let go of at least one job.”

During her free time ― before or after her kids’ school hours ― she enjoys going to different types of performances, appreciating art at museums and meeting artists from around the world. This routine has helped her develop herself as an artist, she said.

“I no longer feel afraid in expressing something during performances. I feel that I’m liberated from all those social barriers and pressures that I used to suffer from years ago (in Seoul).“

In the U.S., she continues teaching at the Hartt School, a performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford and serves as artistic director for Busan Music Festival.

Paik’s 2012 Piano Recital kicks off in Busan at the Busan Cultural Center on March 21 and continues at Geoje Arts Center in South Gyeongsang Province March 21, at the Seoul Arts Center on March 27 and Suseong Artpia in Daegu on March 29.

Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information call 1577-5266.

By Cho Chung-un (