Dec 2, 2013
Hanyang University - South Korea, November 2013
Jeanne Lamon, Music Director
It felt a tad weird to leave the orchestra behind in Goyang on November 24 and get into the cab for downtown Seoul. We had just enjoyed a wonderful run of Galileo concerts and the group intimacy that that programme and touring in general foster. Now we were leaving the fold for the unknown! Off we went, Christina Zacharias, Christina Mahler, Olivier Fortin, and myself, to begin a five-day residency as part of the biannual Bach Festival at Hanyang University.
On the first day, the four of us gave a concert of chamber music by Bach, Leclair, and Rameau. The next day was the first day of rehearsals with the orchestra we were to lead and mentor. This string orchestra, which calls itself the “Bach Collegium," and is about the size of Tafelmusik, turns out to be made up of current students, some recent graduates and a few teachers. The programme for our concert in four days’ time was to feature a recent graduate of Hanyang University, a talented Korean oboist, Yongcheon Shin, who has been studying with Alfredo Bernardini in the Netherlands, as well as a beautiful German countertenor named Benno Schachtner who was to sing Bach’s “Ich habe genug” and some Handel arias. In fact, we will be meeting Benno again in June of 2014 in Leipzig where he will sing with the full Tafelmusik orchestra at the Leipzig Bachfest.
We were happily surprised that these young Korean musicians were able to follow our English discussions about the music. Try leading a rehearsal of Tafelmusik in Korean (or any other language for that matter!) and see how far you get! They not only understood the basics (which piece we were about to rehearse and where to start); much more impressively, they understood subtle discussions of baroque gestures, bowing techniques, and other delicate nuances. This speaks not only to the universal acceptance of English as the default language of communication. It speaks also to the universality of music and its expression. In the end, a quick demonstration of a bowstroke or of a musical gesture is worth a thousand words.
Christina Mahler with students. Photo by Jeanne Lamon
After the very well received concert and the post-concert pub party, we left Korea with a very positive impression of the students’ enthusiasm for music, for learning, and for life! And we hope that their love and understanding of baroque music will be just a bit deeper as a result of the work we have done with them this past week. “Gamsa hamnida!” (“Thank you”) to all of them for their hard work and generous hospitality.
Jeanne Lamon and students at Hanyang University.
The Residency at Hanyang University was made possible
by the generous support of Lynn & James Haight.