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ISCM World Music Days 1997 in Seoul - Makoto Shinohara



ISCM World Music Days 1997 in Seoul

The 69th ISCM festival for contemporary music "World Music Days" has been held in Seoul, beautiful capital of the Republic of Korea for the first time and as the second city in Asia after Hong Kong in 1988.

It started on 26th September at 5 p.m. in the plaza of the Seoul Arts Center with a pleasant outdoor performances of works by Herbert Grassl (1948 Italy) and others making use of the "Klangmobil", moving tricycle equipped with electronic apparatus which has been developed in Austria since a decade.

It was succeded by a gorgeous opening ceremony and a concert by the KBS Symphony Orchestra in the same Center.

The festival went on on the next 27th September at 5 p.m. in the German Goethe-Institute with a chamber concert given by the Tokyo Sinfonietta playing virtuose "Andamento" for violin, clarinet and percussion by Liviu Danceanu (1954 Rumania) and others.

Another chamber concert by the genuine Ensemble Avantgarde (Germany) followed at 7.30 p.m. in the National Theater Main Hall featuring "Tre voci" for soprano and .5 instruments by Arne Nordheim (1931 Norway) and "Klavier & Klavier" for piano and electronic by Steffen Schleiermacher ( 1960 Germany), played bv the composer himself.

Directly at 9 p.m. in the National Theater Small Hall an electronic concert took place with "Duduri" for tape by Seong-joon Moon (1968 Korea), "Mannam" for kayagum (Korean zither) and electronics (1990) by Javier Alvarez (1956 Mexico) one of few new pieces in the festival involving a Korean traditional instrument - , "Voxii' for computer (1995) by Jorge Sad (1959 Argentina.) and "Scratches" for tape by Jukka Ruohom. ki (1947 Finland).

On Sunday 28th September begins already at 11 a.m. an additional but splendid Korean traditional concert in the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts, majestic buildings neighboring to the Seoul Arts Center.

At 2 p.m. open-air in the plaza of the National Theater an interesting educational work "Yoet Doc Geh ki" for Samulnori (Korean traditional percussion), digital pianos and ensembles (1983 , 1971) by Joon-il Kang (Korea) was presented under the direction of Jin-he Sung with participation of 90 children gathered from every corner of the country.

The day was heavy with events since at 5 p.m. a chamber concert followed in the National Theater Small Hall, at 7.30 p.m. an orchestra concert in the National Theater Main Hall where the orchestra of Seoul High School of Arts showed a good serious play, and at 9 p.m. in the Yongkang Hall in the city center an experimental concert by musicians of Basel Music Academy (Switzerland.) where "Morite" for soprano and electronic by Giorgio Tedde (Italy) was succesful with simultaneous transformations of the voice.

On 29th September at 5 p.m. in the National Theater Small Hall the Continuum, ensemble from New York (USA), pleased the audience by skilful presentation of "Four on the floor" for violin, violoncello, double bass and piano (1983) by Libby Larsen (1950 USA,) and "Quartet" for piano and strings (1992) bv Betty Olivero (Israel) among others.

The ASKO Ensemble (Netherlands) gave a chamber concert at 7 30 p.m. in the National Theater Main Hall where "Gramvousa' for flute, bass clarinet, piano and tape by Roderik de Man (1941 Netherlands) and particularly "Birds and Bells" for trombone and 15 instruments (1995) by Bent Sorensen (1958 Denmark) were remarkable.

At 9 p.m. in the National Theater Small Hall a chorus concert followed through Taegu City Choir conducted by Seung-tae Ahn.

On 30th September at 5 p.m. in the National Theater Small Hall a chamber/chorus concert with a full audience; at 7.30 p.m. in the National Theater Main Hall keen theatrical performance of "Yellow Bird" by Sin-cha Hong (Korea), sung and danced by the composer herself with instrumental accompaniment; at 9 p.m. again in the National Theater Small Hall a chamber concert where "Neumes" for percussion ensemble by Enrique Raxach (1932 Netherlands) was dominating.

On lst October at 2 p.m. in the Goethe-Institute there was a video/film presentation: in "Inside Round" by Dinka Pignon (1951 Yugoslavia/Sweden) interesting images were well synchronized with electronic sounds; at 5 p.m. in the KNUA Studio of the Seoul Arts Center an electronic concert; at 7 30 p.m. in the Seoul Arts Center Recital Hall a chorus concert with a full audience where "Gopdeginun gara" for 6 voices by Nahm-hee Chung (1961 Korea) was attractive; at 9 p.m. in the magnificent lobby of the Korean Music Museum a chamber concert with dynamic "Kassandra" for baritone and percussion (1987) by lannis Xenakis (1922 Greece/France).

On 2nd October an excursion to the Korean Folk Village and the Buddhist temple Siluk in the suburbs of Seoul was made for guests of the festival, then at 7.30 p.m. in the Duomul Workshop in Namyangju a chamber concert was held by Elision Ensemble (Australia) where "On stellar magnitudes" for soprano and 5 instruments by Brian Ferneyhough (1943 England) was impressive. At 9 p.m. in the same place a vocal concert with soprano and piano took place.

Finally on the last day 3rd October at 5 p.m. in the Seoul Arts Center Towol Theater a chamber opera "Chowol - Transcendence" by Sukhi Kang (1934 Korea) was wonderfully performed by Life & Dream Singers and Tokyo Chamber Opera Theater under Y. ko Amanuma.

It was followed by a closing ceremony and reception of the festival and at 7.30 p.m. in the Center the last chamber concert was given where "Su Xiaoxiao's tomb" for soprano and 15 instruments (1995) by Yang Yong (China) was outstanding.

The festival annouced a general theme "Human voices in music" for which Wolfgang Burde (Germany), Fran! ois-Bernard M. .che (France) and Jane Manning (England) gave each a lecture in the Nanpa Memorial of Dankuk University.

There were furthermore a photo exhibition commemorating Isang Yun's 80th anniversary in the Goethe-Institute and a sound installation "Silent music" by Robin Minard (Canada) in the Total Museum of Contemporary Art.

As for the yearly general assembly it has been carried out in 5 sessions in the Hotel Tower locating marvelously in lovely nature on a hill near to the National Theater and where the executive members, delegates and other guests were staying.

Here is a summary of the festival: 23 musical events consisting of 21 indoor (1 opera, 1 scenic, 2 orchestra, 11 chamber, 2 electronic and 3 chorus) and 2 outdoor, plus 3 lectures, 1 exhibition and 1 installation; 95 works (16 Korean, 7 English, 6 American, 5 French, 5 German, 4 Dutch, 4 Swiss, 3 Argentine, 3 Austrian, 3 Italian, 3 Russian, 3 Swedish, 2 Australian, 2 Belgian, 2 Canadian, 2 Danish, 2 Israelian, 2 Norwegian, 2 Polish, 1 Albanian, Armenian, Brasilian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Cuban, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Mexican, Rumenian, Singapore, Spanish, Ukranian, Urguayan, Venezuelian, Yugoslavian) of 88 composers from 38 nations consisting of 33 ISCM members and 5non members; 61 works previously selected by the international jury, of which 43 (70 %) - 2 of 11 orchestra pieces selected, 2 of 3 chamber orchestra, 19 of 21 chamber, 4 of 8 vocal, 16 of 18 solo - were actually performed.

It was communicated that the total costs of the festival were about 1.200.000 US$ which were subsidized by the government and several private enterprises.

One may point out insufficiencies such as cancellation of many works, lack of informations and English texts in the program book, confusions caused by frequent changes of orders and shortage of time distance between concerts, these as common incidents in such great organization.

Nevertheless, a number of works with high quality were masterly interpreted; events were well visited by attentive international audience. The World Music Days 1997 should provide live images of up to-date situations of contemporary music in the world, serving as stimulations to all attendants.

Makoto Shinohara, ISCM Japan


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