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[Herald Interview] Pianist Barakatt to present ‘visual’ symphony

Nov. 29, 2015 - 19:39 By 이선영
Canadian pianist and composer Steve Barakatt and the Herald Philharmonic Orchestra are combing forces once again in performance of the musician’s new visually revamped 16-movement symphony “Ad Vitam Aeternam” in January. 

Canadian pianist and composer Steve Barakatt poses during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

Barakatt’s upcoming concert follows the pianist’s previous concert in March, in which he celebrated 20 years since his debut performance in the country, where he performed “Ad Vitam Aeternam,” Latin for “Eternity” -- his first and largest symphonic production.

Bringing back his symphony, the pianist will be performing at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul on Jan. 2. And in commendation of this two-decade milestone, Barakatt is gearing up to go out with a bang with his grandest show yet.

“We want to end it (the anniversary celebration) with the biggest, biggest production,” said Barakatt in an interview last week.

“We will of course be performing the symphony ‘Ad Vitam Aeternam,’ but we are going to expand it with a lot of visuals,” he explained. “Because the Sejong Center is a very important theatrical stage with projections and lighting ... we are really going to explore these visual aspects.”

Even for those fans who attended his performance in March, Barakatt assures that his upcoming concert will highlight a specular live component unlike anything local fans have ever seen in a classical music show. Taking advantage of the concert hall’s large stage screen and video projection capabilities, the pianist has composed a lighting, video and pictorial montage that breathes new life into his symphonic repertoire.

Barakatt stated he teamed up with a local production crew to assist in the creation of the montage to ensure that his “symphony of life” will speak especially to the local audience.

“This will be a unique show created just for this event and it’s going to have a Korean touch as well,” he says. “People will experience this journey not only with their ears, but with their eyes.”

Initially scheduled to hold his concert on Dec. 5 to close out the year, the pianist’s concert was rescheduled following the announcement of political protests scheduled in the Gwanghwamun area on that day.

“The 20th anniversary of friendship with my Korean friends is a moment of celebration, and the last thing I wish is to put my Korean fans, musicians, tour staff and partners at risk considering the situation around the Sejong Center,” he said.

Barakatt and the Herald Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Kim Bong-mee, will perform for one night only at the Sejong Center’s Grand Theater on Jan. 2. Tickets to the New Year’s concert range from 50,000 won ($43) to 300,000 won. For more information, call 070-8248-6085.

By Julie Jackson (