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21st Music in PyeongChang to offer spiritual link to Beethoven

June 11, 2024 - 15:16 By Park Ga-young

Cellist Yang Sung-won, the music director of the annual Music in PyeongChang festival, speaks during a press conference on Tuesday at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul. (Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation)

Music in PyeongChang, an annual music festival held in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, will take place under the theme of "Ludwig!" from July 24 to Aug. 3, the festival's artistic director, Yang Sung-won, announced Tuesday.

Expressing his goal to create a program that can have the last impact on young visitors as the fourth artistic director of the 21-year-old festival, Yang said that this year the music festival aims to offer a "spiritual link" to Beethoven, by showcasing works by musicians who, if they had lived during Beethoven's era, would have affectionately called him "Ludwig" and shared his values.

The 11-day festival which will offer 20 concerts, 7 outreach concerts held in other regional venues and a variety of educational programs.

“I still remember attending Janos Starker's cello performance when I was seven years old, even though it's been 50 years. I aim to create a festival that children visiting this time will remember 10, 20 to 30 years from now,” the cellist told reporters during a press conference held at the Press Center in central Seoul on Tuesday, adding that he has brought together artists who are highly respected by their peers, including Miklos Perenyi and Thomas Zehetmair.

For the opening concert, renowned cellist Perenyi will take the stage with violinist and conductor Thomas Zehetmair, who will the KBS Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Haydn's Cello Concerto in D major, a work by Beethoven’s teacher. In the second half of the concert, the Seoul Motet Choir and the Wonju Civic Chorale, joined by Korea’s leading vocalists, will perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 "Choral," which premiered 200 years ago.

Perenyi, the 76-year-old cellist, will offer a cello recital titled “Hommage to Beethoven,” on July 26, featuring: Bach's Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat major, BWV 1010; Luigi Dallapiccola's Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio; Ivan Erod’s Hommage a Beethoven, Op. 24, which will be an Asian premiere; and Zoltan Kodaly's Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8.

“Dallapiccola is a composer who revolutionized the structure of music as much as Beethoven did. He greatly loved and respected Beethoven, and he aspired to embody Beethoven's innovative mindset in his work. And Mr. Perenyi is someone who extensively performs Dallapiccola's solo cello pieces. Through him, I hope Beethoven's innovative mindset will be conveyed,” Yang explained.

Yang also shared his hope that audiences can “discover” the Orchestre national Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, a symphony orchestra based in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of France.

“This orchestra is still completely unknown in Korea, but I've been following their performances in France for the past 20 to 25 years because they are truly exceptional,” he said.

A concert opera version of "Fidelio," the only opera that Beethoven composed, will be presented in the outdoor Music Tent on July 30. The concert will be led by conductor Adrien Perruchon, featuring the PyeongChang Festival Orchestra and top singers like soprano Lee Myung-joo Lee, tenor Oliver Kook and baritone Kim Gi-hoon.

The festival will wrap up on Aug. 3 with Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, “Emperor” and Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, “Eroica." Italian pianist Enrico Pace will join the PyeongChang Festival Orchestra, which will led by Lee Seung-won Lee, the first Korean to win the prestigious Malko Competition in Denmark in April.

Organized by the Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation, the festival was launched by violin professor Kang Hyo of the Juilliard School. Celebrated musicians have served as Music in Pyeongchang's past artistic directors, including cellist Chung Myung-wha and violinist Chung Kyung-wha. Pianist Son Yeol-eum led the festival from 2018 to 2021.

The PyeongChang Festival Orchestra greets the audience after Music in PyeongChang's closing concert in the Music Tent in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province on Aug. 5, 2023. (Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation)