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Korean Soprano Takes Moscow By Storm

Posted October. 01, 2005 07:43,   


On September 29 at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow, Korean soprano Sumi Jo (42), who performed for the first time in Russia, looked back at Russian virtuoso Yuri Simonov , who conducted the concert that day, and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra with a perplexed look when the audience continued to call for encores even after the concert was over.

After five curtain calls, she had already sung all the songs she prepared, including the Korean song, “Love for Mt. Gumgangsan.”

After some thought, Jo managed to finish the concert, appeasing audiences by singing an unaccompanied, impromptu Korean lullaby. The concert commenced at 7:00 p.m. and lasted a full three hours. Nonetheless, some 1,500 members of the audience would not leave, seemingly unsatisfied, even after Jo left the stage with her two hands full of bouquets.

Throughout the concert, Sumi Jo fascinated music aficionados of Russia, the “home of classical music,” with her charisma that overwhelming the stage. Galina Pisarenko, a merited artist of Russia, commented, “As expected, Sumi Jo’s voice was world-class.”

The “Sumi Jo Concert in Moscow” drew keen attention from the Russian press even before its beginning. Daily newspaper Izvestija and other leading Russian media sources vied with each other to cover the news; interviews with the local press continued even during the rehearsal. Journalists went as far as to show interests in Sumi Jo’s private life as well as her music.

Despite the high ticket price of 2,000 rubles (approximately 80,000 Korean won), which is quite financially burdensome considering the country’s mean income levels, all seats were sold out so early that some tickets were even sold illegally on the day of the concert.

“It is a great pleasure to come to Russia, a country that I have always admired, and be able to feel a unique artistic passion,” said Sumi Jo, expressing her satisfaction. Also a publicity ambassador of the city of Seoul, she boarded a flight for Seoul on September 30, adding that she should “attend the congratulatory concert for the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon stream, scheduled for the evening of October 1.”

Ki-Hyun Kim kimkihy@donga.com