Pianist and Music in PyeongChang artistic director Son Yeol-eum (right), cellist Kim Doo-min (center) and flutist Cho Sung-hyung perform George Crumb’s “Voice of the Whale” during the opening concert of the 19th Music in PyeongChang on Saturday. (Music in Pyeongchang)
PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- The 19th edition of Music in Pyeongchang, an orchestral event in Gangwon Province, finally kicked off Saturday with an opening concert that mixes modern and classical music pieces.
The first half of the opening concert began with Frederic Rzewski’s “To The Earth,” performed by percussionist Matthew Ernster. The percussion session that accompanied a poem recitation was followed by George Crumb’s “Voice of the Whale” for Three Masked Players.
Pianist Son Yeol-eum, the musical director of the festival, flutist Cho Sung-hyun and cellist Kim Doo-min, performed wearing black eye masks on a stage that was lit in deep blue. The masks symbolize the powerful impersonal forces of nature and remove any sense of human projection, according to Crumb, a contemporary classical music composer who passed away in February 2022.
“I wanted to begin the festival with these two composers (Rzewski and Crumb) who recently passed away in a sense of continuation - an end is a new beginning,” Son told The Korea Herald on Sunday. “When I was navigating their music, I found these two pieces that are related to nature, which is a big part of ‘Music in PyeongChang.’” she noted
Two string quartets - Esme Quartet and Quatuor Modigliani perform Mendelssohn’s ”String Octet in E flat major, op. 20” during the opening concert of the 19th Music in PyeongChang on Saturday. (Music in Pyeongchang)
The second half of the concert was presented by two string quartets, both of whom are first timers at the festival. Esme Quartet, consisting of violinists Bae Won-hee and Ha Yu-na, violist Kim Ji-won and cellist Heo Ye-eun, who founded the quartet in 2013 while studying in Germany, played Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s String Quartet No. 2, op. 26.
Esme Quartet then joined forces with Quatuor Modigliani, a French quartet, to play Mendelssohn’s “String Octet in E flat major, op. 20.” Quatuor Modigliani -- violinists Amaury Coeytaux and Loic Rio, violist Laurent Marfaing and cellist Francois Kieffer -- was formed in 2003.
In addition to these two quartets, taking the stage at the festival for the first time include Trio Wanderer, pianists Alexander Melnikov, and Alessio Bax, violinists Yoon So-young and Daishin Kashimoto, violist Ralph Szigeti, soprano Aldona Bartnik, flutists Andrea Lieberknecht and Matvey Demin and bassoonist Dag Jensen.
On the second day, Karisa Chiu, the 2022 winner of the Isang Yun Competition, stood in front of the audience for a special concert and performed Mozart’s Sonata in E minor, K. 304, Faure’s Sonata no. 1 in A major, op. 13, Sibelius’ Five Pieces, op. 81 and Hubay’s Carmen Fantasie.
With the theme of “Masks,” the annual music festival, organized by the Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation, is set to introduce a wide range of performances at Alpensia Concert and Music Tent.
“Many artists will unleash their own stories at the music festival, which resemble the many meanings of a mask,” the artistic director said during a press conference in May.
This year’s program began earlier than usual to avoid the holiday rush of late July to early August and runs a week longer than previous editions until July 23. In addition to concerts, the festival also offers a music academy for up and coming young musicians.
Music in PyeongChang was launched by professor Kang Hyo of the Juilliard School in 2004. Son has been leading the festival since 2018.