Seoul Days 2-3
Greetings friends from sunny Seoul…after the first several days of low overcast and drizzle, it's great to see the sun. Temps are in the mid-80s, which is low for this time of year…Korean summers can be unbearably hot and humid, so it seems we've lucked out!
Conference highlights: attended the early morning sing on Thursday, led by South African conductor Johann van der Sandt. He had us singing African folksongs and stepping through some basic choreography which quickly maxed out our early morning abilities to keep up, but it was fun! Attended interest sessions on a unique choral outreach project taking place on the US-Mexico border in the Arizona-Sonora region, and a session on hybrid singing practices from Europe…sort of eurhythmics meets laban. And, much to my swelling pride as a Butler professor, a great session by my former student Dr. Karen Cooksey, in which she presented ideas on maintaining physical health for conductors…yoga, pilates, body awareness,etc. Well done, Karen!
“What's for lunch?” I hear you inquire. Well, I'm glad you asked! My friends Eric (Eric Banks, AD of the Seattle-based Esoterics) and Lisa (Lisa Graham, choral conductor at Wellesley College) headed to Itaewon (where my hotel is located) and found a delicious Korean BBQ place. Lisa and I shared the grilled-at-your-table BBQ beef, while Eric had a yummy looking Bibimbap (rice bowl with vegetables, egg and roe).
Thursday evening's concert included great performances by the Ansan City Choir (Ansan was the town recently devastated by the sinking of a ferry with hundreds of its high school students aboard; they dedicated their first selection to the memory of those lost), the Moran Children's Choir (Israel) and concluding with the Chamber Choir from the University of Southern California. Concert repertoire for the evening was a mix of folk music, contemporary composers from the countries represented and works from the classical canon.
Friday highlights included concerts by Roomful of Teeth (check 'em out online, fabulous 8-voice group from NYC), the African Youth Choir, the Oslo Chamber Choir, Wonju City Choir (Korea) and the Inner Mongolia Youth Choir. That group from Mongolia was just incredible (I wrote about them after their brief appearance at the opening concert)…such beauty and joy in their singing! Their costumes were incredible, and they opened the concert accompanying themselves with a variety of stringed and wind instruments.
Other highlights of the day included a fantastic 4 mile run from my hotel to the conference site, then through Namsan Park, with a spectacular view overlooking the southern half of Seoul, and a great Japanese meal complete with “frozen” Kirin beer!