Three Hanyangian Stars from Phantom Singer
Vocal musicians who shone in the spotlight
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The long march of Phantom Singer, a musical crossover audition program broadcast by JTBC, officially ended on 27 January. In the final round, the teams “Popularity Phenomenon" (Ingi-Hyunsang) and “Hyungspresso" (deep-hearted espresso) carried on the baton after the champion team “Forte di Quatro”. Despite the loss of the crown, both Popularity Phenomenon and Hyungspresso have shown that classical vocal music can intrigue the public and gain popularity. From Popularity Phenomenon, tenor Yoo Seul-gi (Department of Voice, ‘13) and tenor Paek In-tae (Department of Voice, ‘10) shed fresh light on the traditional genre of vocal music, as well as baritone Kwon Seo-kyoung (Department of Voice, 2nd year) from Hyungspresso. News H met the three proud alumni to hear the behind stories and beyond.
Q1. Congratulations on finishing the long adventure of Phantom Singer. How do you feel now it's over?
Paek: I'm sad I can’t watch my favorite weekly program any more. But I feel freed from the burden of selecting and practicing songs for the performances. I'm also anticipating the future that I'll face.
Yoo: It was such an honor for me to ornament these grand performances, and the experience will become a dominating page of my history. As many say, the culmination of one thing leads to another beginning. I hope that the fans will look forward to my upcoming expedition. It is also my wish to contribute to elevating the pride of Hanyang University.
Kwon: The past six months with Phantom Singer have been full of busy and dramatic moments. Feelings of sadness engulf me, but my gratitude for the program and the audience is the greatest. As a baritone singing vocal music, I was so happy that many people were drawn the attractiveness of this genre of music. I hope that many will look on for further activities of mine.
Q2. How did you come to know this auditioning program, and how did you decide to participate in Phantom Singer?
Paek: Our friend, Seul-ki, suggested that we participate this program together. Without Seul-ki, I wouldn't be where I am today.
Kwon: Seul-ki also brought me into this program, which I thank him a lot for. I seized the opportunity the moment it was offered, because the program seemed so attractive to me.
Yoo: The purpose of this program, Phantom Singer, drew me in. Fusing various musical genres is an adventure, and I thought that it should be tried out. I'm grateful to the program, because this motive is imperative for hardworking people engaged in music.
Q3. Two songs, <Musica> and <Grande Amore>, have received fervent responses from the audience. What do you think are the main reasons behind this ovation?
Paek: I think that the reason behind the popularity of <Grande Amore> that Seul-ki and I sang was because we performed the kind of the music that people couldn't easily approach. When we were teamed up as a duo, it was a competition and it was assumed one of us had to ultimately leave the show. However, that rule was yet undecided, and we thought that if we do well enough, we will be able to bring changes. So there we were, successfully finishing up the performance, going onto the next round together.
Yoo: <Grande Amore> means “grand love”. As you can see from the performance, In-tae and I lock eyes with one another with strong intent. The emotion that we intended to reveal was fiercely competing against one another to attain "grand love" from one woman. I think the audience understood the vitality of our emotions and that is why our performance was lauded.
Kwon: The song <Musica>, which I sang with my partner Ko Eun-sung, wasn't traditional vocal music. Rather, it declared the identity of Phantom Singer’s fusion of music. Crossing over various genres was a great challenge for me. But the original trend of fusing music attracted the audience, which I was extremely glad about.
Q4. How did the preparation process for the performances go about?
Yoo: The entire process takes about two weeks. The song selection for the man-to-man mission wasn't burdensome, until the members accumulated to four people. After spending about 16 hours only to choose what song to sing, for the next few days we'd ponder about how to format the song, and in what style we should amend it. The remaining time was assigned for practice.
Paek: Normally, when four people prepare for a performance, you're given at least two months. This was an incredibly pressuring time limit, but it was also a new experience for a singer like me, who works with classical vocal music.
Kwon: On television, a lot of the preparation process is edited due to the airing time. In reality, more time and endeavors are spent for each performance. Maintaining the rightful physical condition for singing was also a challenge. Personally, Phantom Singer grew me into a better, stronger baritone.
Q1. How did your introduction to vocal music begin?
Paek: My musical life began when I was a freshman at high school. Music class was the only time I earnestly paid attention to, and when I was tested for my school’s music exam, I sang “Geunae" (swing). My music teacher sincerely suggested my mother to lead me to a music career. Mom supported me a lot, even though our family wasn't financially abundant.
Yoo: I started music when I was four years old, which is a dim past. I found joy in music through piano first. Then, my mother thought that my voice would suit vocal music, which is how I entered the world of singing.
Kwon: I was in sixth grade when my voice broke, ahead of my peers, so my voice was naturally louder. When I was preparing for the school’s music festival, my music teacher pulled my musical talent out of me. Going down the road of music was a delightful decision of mine.
Q2. If you slumped at any point in your career, how did you surmount them?
Yoo: I think I'm the master of slumps. Hardships always come to people who try hard. Through slumps, I grow up into a stronger and a more talented singer. Those who continue trying shouldn't fear pitfalls.
Kwon: During the letdowns, I thought that my entire musical life would end. Temptation always allured me to try out easier singing strategies, but singers should always utilize the standard, traditional tactics to find the true voice in oneself.
Paek: When a swimmer goes through a slump, he or she usually starts from the beginning and exercises command of the basic fundamentals of swimming. But for singers, the fundamentals of music are within us, in our physical body, and this invisibility sometimes frustrates us. I found that practicing until you forget the frustration you feel is the only way to conquer hardships.
Q1. Why did you decide to apply to Hanyang University?
Kwon: Before I came to HYU, I was attending a college of music in Italy. But I decided to come back to Korea just to meet and learn from our professor at the Department of Voice, Ko Sung-hyun. At a great university with a marvelous teacher, I am the happiest student ever.
Paek: The College of Music at HYU is renowned for its magnificent history and renowned alumnis. Also, professor Ko Sung-hyun is a teacher that every vocal music student wishes to be taught by. I came to Hanyang University to learn how to become a better singer through Professor Ko’s teaching.
Yoo: Just like In-tae, I applied for HYU twice. It was my dream school, with Professor Ko being my admirable teacher. Becoming his student was my main goal then, and even today I am honored to have been a student of Ko's.
Q2. Any advice for HYU's music students?
Kwon: It's hard to focus on music only, but the day will come for you to see an opportunity and seize it. Try to face the bigger world and do not fear the ups and downs of life. Enduring the present will be valued in a better future.
Yoo: It may sound frustrating, but I've learned that the world isn't that easy and hopeful. We will try to pave the hope-filled roads in this world, so follow our paths and try to pave them deeper.
Paek: Be happy. Be extraordinarily happy with your career that you can’t even begin to think of giving up.
Kim Ju-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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