If you have been following the Korean Wave, you might think that Korea is only about K-pop and K-dramas. However, that's just one part of South Korea’s culture.
In fact, Korea has a long history of classical music and many young Koreans are training in classical music. Even the popular K-drama series Do You Like Brahms? showcases Korea’s love for classical music at the core of its plot.
It's even said that Korea has one of the oldest musical instruments in the world – stone flutes, which date back to 57 BC and were found in Gyeongju, an ancient capital city of the Silla Kingdom.
It appears that Korea offers an exciting springboard for young musicians to show their talent.
To showcase Korea’s performing arts, the Korean Cultural Center in the UAE has been holding the annual Korea Festival, a cultural and artistic festival in the UAE.
I am happy to hold a special performance this year with the EYSO, which consists of young multinational artists who value cultural diversity
The Korea Festival, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, will showcase performances by the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra at the 18th Emirates International Peace Music Festival.
There’s more to Korean culture than K-pop
“Korean culture is often thought of as simply K-pop, but Korea produces many excellent classical musicians worldwide,” says Kim Young-kwang, manager of the Korean Cultural Center.
In particular, [the festival] is more meaningful to be with gifted musician Seol Yoeun, who is drawing attention as a promising violinist of Korea's future.
The 18th Emirates International Peace Music Festival, in collaboration with the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO), is part of the Korea Festival this year.
The Emirates International Peace Music Festival was founded in 2004 by musician Riad Kudsi who arrived in the UAE in 1986. Kudsi also established the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1993.
"I am happy to hold a special performance this year with the EYSO, which consists of young multinational artists who value cultural diversity,” says Nam Chan-woo, director of the Korean Cultural Center.
Even if you’re not familiar with Korean culture, this year’s festival will be a great place for music lovers to experience new tunes. One of the highlights of the festival is a famous Korean violin prodigy, Seol Yoeun’s debut performance in the UAE. The 10-year-old, who is already popular on social media, is receiving a lot of attention not only on Korean broadcasting, but also around the world.
“In particular, [the festival] is more meaningful to be with gifted musician Seol Yoeun, who is drawing attention as a promising violinist of Korea's future. I was surprised that Yoeun's performance, which I encountered by chance, was as delicate and talented as adult performers,” adds Young-kwang.
Who is Seol Yoeun
Yoeun started violin lessons when she was two and a half years old in a local music school in Korea. In 2016, Yoeun who was then four, performed Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in G Minor (3rd Movement) at the Youth Festival of Gwangmyung City, South Korea.
She was six, when Yoeun performed Saint-Seans: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Bruch: Violin Concerto (3rd Movement) with Seoul Pops Orchestra.
Her notable past performances are Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen, Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 2, Vitali: Chaconne in G Major, Mozart: Violin Concertos No. 3 & 5, Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor, and Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy Op. 25.
In this year’s music festival, Seol Yoeun will perform Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin & String Orchestra in G Minor (Allegro), Variations on the theme of Corelli – Kreisler Corelli, Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major (Allegro) - W. A. Mozart, Etude-Caprice No. 4, op. 18 - H. Wieinawski.
Grooving into Korean culture
Next week, the Korean Cultural Center will also hold a performance called Connect with K-Arts Dance at the University of Sorbonne, Abu Dhabi.
The K-Arts Dance Company, which is composed of students and graduates of the Korea National University of Arts, is behind the dance performance. The concert combines various genres of dance such as Korean modern and contemporary dance, traditional dance, and ballet.
According to Chan-woo, “The dance performance by Korea National University Arts, the best art school in Korea, is a good opportunity to understand the trend and depth of Korean culture, [especially when] people’s interest have expanded from pop culture such as K-Pop, dramas and movies to Korean traditional culture and pure arts.”
You can explore more events from the Korean Cultural Center like an exhibition of ‘Korean Traditional Paintings’ by promising painters from Korea.
Date and time: Music performances will begin on October 22, from 7pm onwards.
Location: Visitors can attend the performances for free at Sharjah Performing Arts Academy (SPAA) in Sharjah on Saturday, October 22. Performances on Sunday, October 23 will take place at Dubai Ignite School Auditorium, in Dubai.
Visitors can also attend the Connect with K-Arts Dance for free and it is open for all ages.
Date and time: This dance concert will be held on Thursday October 27, at 5.30pm.
Location: Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi.
More details can be found in the Korean Cultural Center website or advance reservations are available on uae.korean-culture.org/en/550/board/380/read/118731