Korean Composer Relishes Proud Moment in Absentia

      March 10, 2008 08:59

      Chin Un-suk

      New York's Carnegie Hall last weekend presented the U.S. premier of Korean composer Chin Un-suk's latest orchestral piece, "Rocana." Unfortunately the composer herself was unable to grace the performance with her presence since she was stuck some 13 hours waiting for a flight.

      At 9 p.m. on Saturday local time, an audience of some 2,800 had filled the 118-year-old concert hall and was waiting for renowned Japanese-American conductor Kent Nagano to lead the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in the U.S. debut of Chin's new work.

      Nagano, who is also general music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, turned to the audience and declared himself "honored" to be conducting the premier of "Rocana", but unfortunately Chin's plane been held up by poor weather and she had only just boarded a flight to New York. He hoped she might arrive in time to catch the final phrase of her work. The audience responded with a sorrowful sigh.

      At 6.30 that same morning, Chin, who had given an invited lecture at the University of Illinois, was jumping up and down in an airport in Chicago, unable to board her flight because of a rainstorm in New York. Three flight cancellations and more than 13 hours later, she finally boarded a plane at around 7:40 p.m. She didn't reach her destination until 10:30 p.m., after the concert had finished.

      She gave an interview to the Chosun Ilbo at a hotel in New York. "I wish I would not be recorded in the music history as an unfortunate composer who missed the premier of
      her work at Carnegie Hall," she said.

      She composed "Rocana" at the request of Nagano after the world premier of her opera "Alice in Wonderland" at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich last year.

      Although the composer was late, the work was performed as scheduled at 9 p.m. sharp, as the opening piece of the second part of the evening concert.

      Under Nagano's baton, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal created a wave of sound, with the percussion and string sections taking turns. The strings played dreamy and mysterious sounds which eventually coalesced into one sound, like a rainbow of colors being focused through a prism. After the orchestra finished performing the piece, the audience gave two curtain-calls to comfort the composer who had missed her concert.

      "Rocana" will be performed in Chicago and premiered in Korea by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra next month. Chin will come to Korea for a video presentation of "Alice in Wonderland" at Kumho Art Hall on Thursday. 

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