Seoul Symposium Day 1
It's two minutes till midnight Wednesday in Seoul, as I wrap up my first full day in South Korea. The once-every-three-years World Choral Symposium kicked off tonight with opening ceremonies and concert in the National Theater of Korea. This is the second time I've been able to attend a WCS gathering…it's an amazing collection of performances, seminars, all things choral, and lots of fun. Here's the first of my reports.
A singer in the Choir, Dana Goot, is married to a Delta Airlines pilot. She and he were good enough to contact the captain of my flight from Detroit to Seoul, and he invited me to the flight deck for a pre-departure tour. Climb the stairs from main to upper deck, and walk all the way to the front “office” and there he invited me to have a seat. At around 875,000 lbs fully loaded, the 747 is just “a bit” heavier than than they 3,000 lb Cessnas I usually fly. The view was awesome from his chair! Thank you, Dana!!
Seoul is a huge city, but so far it's been pretty easy to navigate. I was able to take the airport train into town and transfer to the subway to get to my hotel with ease. And it was cheap! Less than $5 (approx 5,000 Korean Won) for the 50 kilometer trip.
With the morning and early afternoon free, I headed out to explore, riding the subway up to Myeongdong, a vibrant center for retail, history and city hall. And I visited the 19th century Catholic Cathedral, and the 15th century (though the buildings are all much newer) Deoksugung Palace, with its beautifully landscaped park-like campus. Walking beneath the trees, I was reminded of late summers growing up in Columbus, Indiana, with the cacophony of cicadas singing away.
Lunch was a delight…one can find any sort of cuisine possible in Seoul, but for my first meal here, it had to be Korean food of course. Remembering that I had some great meals in the huge restaurant zones in the Tokyo department stores last fall, I headed for where the shoppers are, and was rewarded with a yummy lunch at a place called “Bowl.” There, all the Korean specialities are served in soup bowls and clay pots. My lunch was a dish called “Bibimbap,” which means “mixed rice.” Served in a piping hot clay pot, they put a variety of vegetables, ground beef, mushrooms and an egg on top, and you mix it all up. The clay pot continues to cook the ingredients as you eat, and the sesame oil used gives a nice crunch to the rice at the bottom. Served with a bunch of vegetable sides, it was a great and tasty meal.
Finally, tonight I attended the opening of the Symposium itself, and heard 9 different choirs in the opening concert. Choirs from Africa, South America, Scandinavia were all impressive, but my favorite was the group from Inner Mongolia, dressed in period costume. Great stuff! Looking forward to seeing and hearing what tomorrow has in store.