▲ Above, Eugene Migliaro Corporon conducts the world premiere of Jacob de Haan’s “Goddess of Jeju Island.” Photo by Darryl Coote. Top photo courtesy Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival.
The 16th Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival (JIWEF) spanning over 60 concerts in nine days culminated in a night of elegance, culture, and music during the closing ceremonies at the Jeju Arts Center in Jeju City.
From Aug. 12 to Aug. 20, Jeju was treated to a festival that brought some of the world’s best professional and amateur bands to its shores from all over the world including Belgium, China, France, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and of course Korea.
“It is a wonderful festival,” said Eugene Migliaro Corporon, Regents professor of music at the University of North Texas, conductor for the closing ceremonies, and first-time participate in the festival. “I’ve heard about [JIWEF] over a number of years and it’s an amazing bringing-together of guest artist, conductors, composers. I’ve heard so many amazing performances from the Korean groups, the European groups, China; it’s a very good opportunity to hear what’s going on all over the world.”
Held every year on the same date, the festival strives to “promote the popularity and specialty of the wind music,” reads the JIWEF Web site.
Among the 61 concerts there were also The 4th Competition of the Korea Community Band, and for the first time the U-13 (under 13-years old) Band Contest to encourage children the world over to live a peaceful and healthy life, in mind and body. A total of seven elementary school bands from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea competed for the coveted first-place trophy which was awarded in a three-way tie to Beijing Chaoyang Jinsong No. 4 Primary School Band from China, Dahu Municipal Elementary School Concert Band from Taiwan, and Korea’s Hwabug Elementary School Band.
“The atmosphere of this festival is wonderful,” said Jacob de Haan, world-renowned composer who was commissioned to write “God-dess of Jeju Island,” for the festival’s closing ceremonies. The only complaint he had, which was shared by JIWEF Artistic Director and National Taiwan Normal University Professor Yeh Shu Han, was the lack of attendance. “I think that is a little problem,” said de Haan, asking, “How can you get more audience to the average concert?”
De Haan continued that though the audiences may have been small, those who were in attendance for the concerts listened enthusiastically, and were incredibly appreciative.
“It was wonderful and at the end” of a particular performance by a Belgium band he was referencing, “it wasn’t such a problem.”
▲ From left, composer Jacob de Haan, JIWEF artistic director Yeh Shu Han and conductor Eugene Migliaro Corporon. Photo by Darryl Coote
Yeh said that currently the festival relies too heavily upon Jeju citizens to fill concert halls and that to increase attendance the performances should be grouped into package tours.
“Every day there is more than maybe 2,000 Taiwanese tourists in Jeju. They go to casino, they go to beach, they go to Nanta, but they don’t go to concert. They don’t know about concert,” said Yeh.
The final crescendo of the entire festival was the hour and a half long closing ceremonies when de Haan’s “Goddess of Jeju Island” was publicly performed for the first time.
On his first trip to the island three and a half years ago he was given a book, “Goddesses of Jeju,” which became one of the inspirations for his composition along with the traditional Jeju song “The Most Beautiful 10 Scenic Views in Jeju.” His song is center around the story of Seolmundae Halmang.
“What inspired me is … the legend of Seolmdae in combination with this beautiful folk song. There are various episodes, various emotions,” said de Haan.
He used the melody of the traditional song, which de Haan said transcends the nation of its inception and its time of creation, and infused influences of Wagner and other opera composers to create a dynamic piece full of energy and emotion.
Conducted by Corporon, who worked with de Haan during the piece’s formation said, “It is always an honor to be involved in the birth of a piece. I think all pieces should be born this way with the composer present and the conductor.”
A total of 30,000 people attended the performances during the festival’s nine-day run. Next year, the JIWEF will host the 7th Jeju Brass Competition, which has been hosted every other year in conjunction with the festival.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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