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Emphasis on youth at Percussion AcademyA review of the 1st Jeju International Percussion Academy & Festival 2010
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승인 2010.08.29  14:16:26
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▲ Percussionist Ludwig Albert. Photo courtesy the artist

The emphasis was on youth at the 1st Jeju International Percussion Academy and Festival 2010, as 32 percussionists, aged 16 to 25, attended the event held in Jeju City from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 at the Jeju Art and Culture Center and the wind music festival practice room.

The academy and festival were overseen by three instructors; Ludwig Albert, a professor of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Antwerp, Belgium; Choi Kyunghwan from Seoul National University and Oh Seung Myeong, principal percussionist in the Jeju Philharmonic Orchestra.

Passionate beats filled the practice room during the festival and a minor language barrier was not enough to stop the keen students from learning. Adhering to a very tight schedule, students were given individual lessons from three different percussionists during the day, and attended guest performer recitals and concerts in the evenings.

As part of the program, three young marimba artists were invited to perform. Song Min Jeong, who won the Young Talent Prize at the International Marimba Competition Belgium in 2004, Chin Cheng Lin, associate professor at Antwerp Royal Conservatory in Belgium and First Prize winner of the 4th European Soloist Competition in Birmingham in 2007 and Kim Mi Young, the winner of the 2007 Universal Marimba Competition held in Belgium.

The emphasis on youth gave students a chance to meet with younger and passionate fellow performers. One of the participants in the camp, Kim Nam Hoon, described the event as a great chance to build networks among fellow percussionists.

“It was a great opportunity to meet eminent marimba artists, to create network among Korean future marimbists, and to enjoy the beautiful island,” he said. “It was really a great opportunity for me to actually meet artists who have won international awards recently. They have more practical and helpful advice for us.”

One of the guest performers, Chin Cheng Lin, agreed saying that “interaction is very important within [the] artistic community.”

After an intense week learning day and night, students took advantage of the cancellation of a recital on the last day of instruction (Aug. 14) to “improvise” a day trip, according to Lin, and spent a little time socializing with each other at the beach.

The Belgian/Korean percussion team concert was scheduled within the the 15th Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival. In the first half of the performance, Prof. Choi led the Korean percussion team which featured drums and timpanies.

The second half of the concert was performed by the Belgian team led by Ludwig Albert and consisted mostly of marimba. Towards the end of the performance, seven more marimbas were set up on the stage, and a group of performers lined up behind two rows of the instrument. Abba’s Mammamia with different melodies and sounds played by 13 marimbists were more harmonious than anyone would ever expect without help of other instruments.

Emitting a deep, warm and comforting sound, the wooden marimba can be considered a larger version of the xylophone. Marimba players play the instrument with four to eight mallets.

When asked whether he would come to Jeju to visit regardless of the music festival, Albert said without hesitation, “Of course, I would still do percussion camps here on Jeju even without the Music festival.” He praised Jeju as a place that has both Korean cultural heritage and exotic scenery.

He truly believes that the future of percussion in Korea is very bright. He was deeply impressed by the number of volunteers at the festival.

“Jeju, or Korea, can develop music festival or concert cultures, because Jeju has so many volunteers, Albert said.

“Unlike Europe, where you have to pay for everything.” He believes that having more percussion-related events on the island will help change public opinion about marimba.

Albert hopes people will consider the marimba as a solo instrument as well as a section of the orchestra.

Though arguably a success, there were many obstacles that hindered the academy. For instance, since it was the first time this camp was held, it was difficult to publicize the program. Also, some students were reluctant to come to an island in Korea. In addition, because of weight and size, students were unable to bring their own instruments, due to the expensive airline luggage costs, thus creating the problem of furnishing enough instruments for students to practice with. However, the obstacles were overcome with help from the Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival Organizing Committee. Oh says, “Without the help of the [Wind Ensemble Festival] committee, it would have been a much tougher journey.”

In the near future, organizers Oh and Albert hope to make the international percussion camp on Jeju an annual event.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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