Tongyeong festival to meld Westwood, Handel

By Korea Herald

Asian premiere of ‘Semele Walk’ to be the highlight of annual music festival honoring composer Yun I-sang

  • Published : Mar 7, 2013 - 19:54
  • Updated : Mar 7, 2013 - 19:54
The Asian premiere of “Semele Walk,” a funky and fashionable 21st century adaptation of Handel’s opera-oratorio “Semele,” will be staged on March 22-23 at the Tongyeong International Music Festival held at the Tongyeong Citizen’s Center in South Gyeongsang Province.

Wearing costumes designed by Vivienne Westwood, the British designer known as the godmother of punk fashion, singers will strut down a catwalk next to the orchestra alongside fashion models.

The dramatic expressions, Mohawk-inspired hairstyles and makeup are expected to amplify the tragic life of Semele, who falls in love with Jupiter and faces harsh consequences for falling in love with a god, the organizers said. 
A scene from “Semele Walk” performed at the Sydney Festival 2013 in January. (Tongyeong International Music Festival)

The piece has been controversial for its dramatic and drastic alteration of the Baroque atmosphere of the original work and has caused a stir among classical music lovers. Produced by the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen, Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop will play musical instruments restored in the Baroque style.

“Semele Walk” was selected as the opening piece for the seven-day festival that will also explore the diverse aspects of classical music ranging from Baroque to the contemporary by inviting talented musicians from around the world.

This year’s festival has several aims: increasing Tongyeong’s profile in the music world; revitalizing the domestic performing arts scene; overcoming the limitations of the Korean industry that tends to focus on foreign acts; and promoting cultural exchanges by presenting young and talented musicians.

At the Portrait Concert section on March 24 at 5 p.m., this year’s composers in residence, Pascal Dusapin and Qigang Chen, will feature their latest works. 

Qigang shot to international fame when he became the musical director for the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics. Dusapin, known as the future of French contemporary music, will feature at not only the Portrait Concert but will stage children’s musical, “Momo” on March 24 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The festival has also teamed up with the Goethe Institut to hold the world premiere of new works on March 25 at 7:30 p.m.

The institute commissioned new works from four young Asian composers ― Huihui Cheng from China, Texu Kim and Shin Dong-hoon from Korea, and Eiko Tsukamoto from Japan. Following the performance, a jury and the public will choose the most outstanding composition.

Ticket reservations are available at ticket.interpark.com or www.ticketlink.com. For more information call (055) 642-8662~3.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)