A new space for performance, Inchoon Art Hall, opened its doors in the basement of the Seoul Arts Center’s Music Hall. The Inchoon Art Hall was completed on August 28 with 103 seats in a 350 square-meter space. It used to be used as a rehearsal space of the Seoul Arts Center’s Music Hall. The Inchoon Foundation donated one billion won last year to renovate it into a concert hall. Soleno donated the seats, which have a self-antibacterial function to comply with disease control measures during the COVID-19 outbreak. A new concert grand piano from Steinway & Sons was also procured for the new performance hall.
I visited the space on Thursday. Baritone Kim Ki-hoon and Soprano Hong Ju-young were practicing for the art donation concert to be held two days later at the Seoul Arts Center. Despite rather soft music, the overwhelming sound of their voices resonated in a relatively small space with all the details.
“The hall is good for singing as it prevents too much echo or too much sound absorption into walls,” Kim, the winner of the 2016 Seoul International Music Competition, said after singing “Face” composed by Shin Gui-bok. “The performer’s sound was very clear, which made it easy to play accompaniment,” said a permanent conductor of the Gimcheon City Symphony Orchestra Kim Sung-jin who played piano accompaniment for Kim. There is a large lobby outside the Inchoon Art Hall, which seems suitable for performers to meet with audiences.
The Seoul Arts Center’s Music Hall had two performance spaces – Concert Hall and Recital Hall – at the time of its opening in 1988. The Concert Hall with 2,505 seats is suitable for large-scale symphonies or choruses while the Recital Hall with 354 seats is suitable for smaller-scale chamber music or recitals. In October 2011, the IBK Chamber Hall, which is the most appropriate for middle-scale chamber music concerts with 600 seats. Nine years later, the Inchoon Art Hall was added to the building as the smallest performance hall.
Obtaining opportunities to play at the Seoul Arts Center has been difficult as it is the most famous classical music concert hall in South Korea. The Recital Hall, which is popular for instrumental or vocal recitals, received 5.5 applications for one opening on average last year. The Seoul Arts Center is expecting that the newly added Inchoon Art Hall will help with the issue. In addition, the center is considering measures to give more opportunities to those new to the music scene who struggle with finding a place for performance. Concerts will not be limited to evening hours, opening them to more diverse time slots.
From November 10 to 13, a festival to celebrate the opening of the Inchoon Art Hall will be held. The Korea Festival Ensemble will kick the festival off on November 10, followed by the performance of flutist Lee Ye-rin and Ensemble Fl.ex on 11, Kim Kaon Trio on 12, and pianist Ahn Jong-do on 13. The event was originally scheduled in September, but was postponed for two months due to COVID-19.
The new Inchoon Art Hall can be viewed on “Yoo Yoon-jong tube” YouTube channel. Beside the Inchoon Art Hall, the Future Art Hall with 130 seats recently opened in the Calligraphy Hall across the Seoul Arts Center’s Music Hall. The slightly bigger Future Art Hall is a multi-purpose space that can be used for not only performance but also screening, educational programs, seminars, etc.