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Posted June. 07, 2006 07:17,   


Hahm Shin-ik will conduct Britten’s masterpiece on June 24

“‘Requiem’ has various versions composed by Mozart, Brahms, Faure, and Verdi, but the composition that sincerely moved me to tears was Britten’s “War Requiem” performed at the U.N. Center in Vienna, Austria, in 1987. It was a piece of forgiveness and reconcilement not only meant to console the dead, but also for the living.

For conductor Hahm Shin-ik (48) of the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra, June is a month of requiem. Hahm will be conducting the KBS Philharmonic Orchestra for the performance of Mozart’s ‘Requiem at 8:00 p.m. on June 15 in KBS Hall, and 8:00 p.m. on June 16 at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall, followed by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)’s masterpiece, War Requiem, performed by the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra at 7:00 p.m. on June 24 at the Daejeon Culture and Arts Center Art Hall, and 7:00 p.m. on June 25 at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall.

Requiem is a liturgical composition for the salvation of departed souls. First sung in Catholic churches, it developed into solo, chorus, and orchestral forms, later being composed not only for mass, but also for performance purposes.

Performed on the 56th anniversary of the Korean War, it is the first time that Britten’s War Requiem will be performed in Korea. The composition involves a 100-person orchestra, adult chorus (130 people), youth chorus (40 people), and three soloists, amounting to a grand total of 270 people.

The composition was commissioned in 1962 for the reconsecration of the British Coventry Cathedral, previously destroyed by bombs during World War II. Britten delivered a message against war and for peace by setting the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead with a poem of Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), who died at the age of 25 during the World War One. The battle sounds of bullets flying, guns cracking, and trumpets blowing are all expressed through music, showing the gravity of war. Britten produced a visual album for this piece, and to express the theme of harmony, he included soloists from countries that fought during World War II, including Germany’s baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, and the British tenor Peter Pears.

Before the performance, the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra will show pictures of the Korean War, as well as the Vietnam War, the Iraqi War, and the Bosnian War among others, and also enable the audience to understand the lyrics performed by a soloist by providing a Korean translation of Owen’s poem. For more information, call 042-610-2264.

At the Grand Auditorium of Sejong Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. on June 10, the Seoul Metropolitan Chorus will perform the Requiem. Professor Martin Behrmann of the Korean National University of Arts will conduct the Seoul Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. For more information, call 02-399-1114.

Seung-Hoon Cheon raphy@donga.com