Concert to celebrate 100th anniversary of late Yun I-sang

By Yun Suh-young
Yun I-sang

Many concerts will be held in the coming months celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of late composer Yun I-sang (1917-1995).

The 2017 Tongyeong International Music Festival will be held at the Tongyeong International Music Hall in the city of Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, under the theme “Remembering Isang Yun” from March 31 through April 9.

Tongyeong annually holds the Tongyeong International Music Festival in honor of the late composer Yun.

Yun is recognized in Europe for converging the West and the East’s musical techniques and philosophy in his music. He was educated at the Paris Conservatoire and the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin. However, his music was barely played in Korea due to ideological conflicts with the Korean government. Yun was accused of being involved with spying in East Berlin in 1967 due to his previous involvement in the democracy movement and his visit to North Korea. He served two years in prison and was released with the help of the German government which later granted Yun citizenship.

The Isang Yun Peace Foundation was one of the organizations listed on the “blacklist” by the Park Geun-hye administration and the Isang Yun Music Competition faced the likelihood of being suspended last year.

On the opening day of this year’s festival, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt will perform Yun’s cello concerto composed in 1976. On April 1, the Isang Yun Soloists Berlin will be performing five songs including three of Yun’s _ Trio (1992), Loyang (1962), and Piece Concertante (1976).

The Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of conductor Adrien Perruchon will perform Teile dich Nacht (1980) on the following day. The work is known to be an acoustic expression of Yun’s experience of shamanistic rituals.

On April 4, Cologne Chamber Orchestra with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the piano will perform Yun’s Octet (1978) under the helm of conductor Choi Soo-yeoul.

On April 8 and 9, the Arditti Quartet will play Yun’s String Quartet No. 1 (1959/61) and String Quartet No. 4 (1988) among its eight repertoires.

The festival will close with a finale by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Dennis Russell Davies playing two of Yun’s works _ Fanfare and Memorial (1979) and Clarinet Concerto (1981). Other repertoire includes John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986) and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913).

Composer Yun’s music will also be performed outside of Tongyeong in different concert halls. The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will pay homage to two composers _ Yun and French composer Pierre Boulez who died last year _ in its contemporary music series “Ars Nova Chamber Music Concert” on March 24. The orchestra will also perform Yun’s “Piece concertante (1976).”

Cellist Koh Bong-ihn who had shown particular affection for Yun’s musical works will showcase a special concert dedicated to the composer this September at the Kumho Art Hall in Seoul.

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