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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 9

Friday, June 22 C-Day (Concert Day). Choi is to meet us at 12:30 and takes us to lunch. So after breakfast I head over to the conductor's lounge to work on Sweeney Todd where I'll be actually singing the title role at CSU in July. Two hours of singing practice feels great as a change of pace. Lunch is at a different Korean restaurant near the hotel where we feast on fish and soup. The hall is in a different part of Changwon, close to baseball stadium where the Dino's play. I arrive just in time to start rehearsal and…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 8

Thursday, June 21 The morning pattern continues: a long walk/run around the lake, breakfast, wait five minutes for some brewed coffee at Starbucks, walk across the street to rehearsal. When I arrive at the conductor's lounge, the Executive Director, Inho, Ms. Baek, and Reena are waiting for me to go over the schedule for the next couple of days. We have a double rehearsal today with lunch in between, so the AM rehearsal will end at 11:30, which will be exclusively on the Prokofiev. It has been arranged for me to work with our soloist Jaehong YIM, at 11:30 before…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 7

Wednesday, June 20 A routine has been established of an American or Korean breakfast followed by a stop at Starbucks. At a Korean coffee house, if you want a quick coffee you need to order a Cafe Americano or a Latte and they will always ask if you want it hot or iced for the latter is very popular. For a drip or brewed coffee, you'll need to wait at least five minutes as they do individual cups only and fresh. Rehearsal begins at 10 AM, goes to 12:30 PM.  We then seek out a lunch and following that is…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 6

Tuesday, June 19. We are on our own today as Choi has a concert elsewhere in the area. Changwon has a Philharmonic--a full-time orchestra,  Busan has a Philharmonic--a full-time orchestra, and Choi is playing with an orchestra on an island that is a pick-up group. It is clear that South Korea is flush with musicians and they are well-trained. There also seems to be a bit of a competition amongst the groups. I pick up a brochure for next season in the conductor's lounge of yet another orchestra nearby. On the season is Mahler 5 AND Mahler 2, not to…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 5

Monday, June 18 It is Monday which marks the first day of rehearsals with the Changwon Philharmonic. Choi has been very upbeat about the orchestra as an ensemble saying several times, "You're going to love this orchestra Maestro!" We meet Choi around 9:30 and walk over to the hall. The Changwon Arts center is a huge complex with several theaters at street level and offices and rehearsal space below. After we cross the street, Inho Kim, the orchestra's Associate conductor, meets us outside with the orchestra manager and walks us down a long hallway lined with photographs of the various…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 4

Sunday, June 17th. Another slow morning with some coffee in the room, reading, study of music, and then down to breakfast. This morning, Leslie tries the "American Breakfast" sandwich choice. It turns out to be a club sandwich an odd option for an actual American! We also go out and walk around the lake that is across the street from our hotel. One trip around is 1200 meters or about 3/4 of a mile. There are walkers, fast walkers, and joggers at all hours of the day doing their laps every day. Furthermore, there are exercise stations sprinkled throughout the…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 3

Saturday, June 16 We spent a slower morning, same choices for breakfast, although my Korean meal had seaweed soup as the centerpiece on this AM. Choi met us again at the Starbuck's late morning and we headed off to the Busan again to a shopping mecca down by the waterfront and the famous fish market. If you want to learn something intrinsic about a culture, the open air markets are the way to go. Walking into the four story building one is immediately faced with the bustle of sellers of live wholesale seafood in a diverse set of tanks. It…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 2

Friday, June 15. The exhaustion of travel knocked us out for the night and we awoke on Friday AM relatively refreshed and looking forward to new sights and sounds in the area. Our first adventure was the previous night trying to figure out how to turn off the light system (a console by the bed finally was discovered) and getting the air conditioning to work. That accomplished, we next discovered the modern bathroom (complete with a heated seat and bidet) and two heads in the shower. Such creature comforts were welcome and appreciated! Breakfast in the restaurant gave us two…
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Maestro’s South Korean Adventures – Part 1

Prologue. For almost two years Useon Choi--up until recently the principal clarinetist of the Fort Collins Symphony--and I have been working on an artist exchange that would bring Inho Kim and Jeune Lee to Fort Collins and send me to the Busan area in South Korea. Last November Inho, the assistant conductor of the Changwon Philharmonic, and Jeune Lee, a prominent Korean pianist, came to Colorado. Inho conducted the Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3, the "Scottish", and Jeune played the Beethoven “Emperor” Concerto. The evening was concluded with Inho conducting a beautiful Korean folk song that captured the hearts of the…
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