▲ From left, David Lanz, Gary Stroutsos and Walter Gray. Photo courtesy Playgarden
Since the 1980s, New Age music has continuously gained in popularity in Korea. When Koreans hear the name George Winston, an iconic American musician and performer, most nod their heads in acknowledgement. Another artist who deserves similar acclaim yet would gain less nods of familiarity is David Lanz. His most representative work - “Cristofori’s Dream” (1988) – is a heartfelt piano piece dedicated to his teacher that he started composing when he was 10 years old. Even for those who do not know his name immediately, his music will likely strike a chord of recognition.
Although David Lanz has visited Korea numerous times, he had never been to Jeju until this month. He made his first visit along with friends Walter Gray and Gary Stroutsos as part of their Asian tour as the Liverpool Trio. Their repertoire consisted of music from their latest album called Re-Imagining the Beatles (2009), and they performed for one night only on Sept. 5 at the Jeju Arts Center. It was a rare chance for a Jeju audience to enjoy a live performance from artists that they could previously only hear on CD.
The trio performed twice in Seoul on this trip but skipped other major cities in favor of Jeju as the venue for their last Korean concert. Lanz, who referred to himself as the group “ringleader,” said, “The last couple of times I came to Korea, our promoter kept telling us about this beautiful island.” He had also heard that “People from China, Japan and Korea all go there for honeymoons and vacations. So I thought it would be great to do a concert there sometime.”
He knew little more about Jeju until he researched the destination on the Internet. What he found was to his liking and during the planning of the Asian tour, Jeju was added as a venue. Lanz said that he was further convinced when his promoter told him that Jeju would be the best setting for his music.
Despite professing general ignorance about Jeju during the interview, all three musicians seemed knowledgeable or interested in the island. Flute player Stroutsos said “I want one of those persimmon dyed T-shirts” and seemed to know enough about them to want to acquire it before he left.
Cellist Gray planned to stay one more week after the concert. “I have a fair amount of time off so I am staying longer,” he said. His first mission was to climb Mt. Halla, before exploring other scenic spots on the island with his girlfriend.
Lanz said one of his aims while playing here was to entertain and put people into a nice frame of mind. He suggested that if the audience closed their eyes, the music will take them to a nice place. He added that the music would mostly be relaxing but would also offer a faster tempo at times.
True to his word, the performance at the Jeju Arts Center was original and relaxing, yet very lively. Their individual talents merged and intermingled with the music of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and pleased the audience immensely. The highlight of the concert was Lanz’s solo piano pieces, which he dedicated to his wife, his mother and all the women in the audience. An original arrangement of the Beatles’ “I am the Walrus,” as the group’s final encore, received a standing ovation from some spectators
The musicians described their trio as “semipermanent” and said they hoped they would work together as long as possible. Lanz said they have scheduled one more recording as the Liverpool Trio for later this year, and that they want to return to perform in Jeju next year if they can.
“To be on Jeju is a special experience for us,” he said.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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