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“Let Me Play You Animation Theme Songs in Jazz”

Posted August. 03, 2004 22:15,   


“I only hope that I can give children such a feeling that will make them realize that this kind of music exists, and that it can give them a special kind of thrill.”

Pianist Han Choong-wan, a 43-year-old professor at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, is holding a concert for children and youths. His concert, “Perky Jazz Stories Told by the Pianist Daddy,” will be held at the Chongdong Theater from August 7 until August 22.

As indicated by the name of the concert, he is also a father of two sons and two daughters, who are kindergarten through middle-school students. It is a unique and rare event in the nation not only for being a jazz concert with commentaries for youths and children, but also for being an extended-series concert, with 20 performances scheduled.

The concert starts by playing children’s songs such as “The School Bell Rings Ding Ding Dong” and “Paper Plane,” and animation themes such as “Space Boy Atom,” all rearranged in a jazz style. Korean pop songs such as “If You Are Still Beautiful” by Toy, as well as the standard jazz number “Take the A Train” will be played. Songs written by him are also on the play list, such as “Jungle” and “As Ever.”

He will give explanations in detail about the basic theories of jazz, its concepts, and its history in-between the songs, and also play sample music of different genres, such as bossa nova, from a laptop computer to help the audience understand.

“Today’s music is often well-manufactured merchandise. But what growing children need to be exposed to is music as an art form itself. I’d like to highlight that artistic side in this concert,” says Han.

He graduated with an agricultural chemistry degree from Seoul National University, but spent some time wondering about his future plans after that. He then studied at the Berklee College of Music in the United States simply because of his curiosity and interest in jazz. He has released four solo albums so far, including “Love Song” in 1993, and worked with singers such as Lee Eun-mi, Lee So-ra, and Kim Dong-ryul on their albums as music director or a piano session player.

In response to my question on “how to appreciate jazz music,” he answered as follows:

“Jazz has many spectrums. There are many songs, but I suggest starting with listening to songs that appeal to each listener the most when they first hear it. With an attitude like ‘this is the lineage of jazz, so I have to listen to this,’ one might be satisfying one’s need for knowledge, but one can never fully enjoy the music like that.”

His concerts will be held from Tuesday through Friday at 3 p.m., and on weekends and holidays at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Admission ranges from 15,000 won to 20,000 won. For further information, contact 82-2-751-1500.

Sun-Woo Kim sublime@donga.com