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2017-08 07

[Alumni]A Sincere Teacher of Music

The members of a choir are standing in line on stage, singing while exchanging eye signals, presenting graceful harmony. They finish their performance with a big applause. Finally, the conductor turns around and gives a big bow as he listens to the cheers getting louder. In the center of the stage as a conductor, there is Lee Eun-suk (Department of Vocal Music, ’95), who tries his best to live as a true musician. He is not only a conductor of two choirs and two orchestras, but also a singer, and the founder of a choir, Goyang Mixed Choir. An open choir for amateurs Lee is currently the founder and the conductor of Goyang Mixed Choir, which is a choir open for all amateurs encompassing different genders and ages. This choir welcomes anyone who has a passion to sing. However, the choir was not something Lee had planned ahead. “To be honest, I didn’t have a particular vision to make a choir by myself. An acquaintance of mine was planning on a chorus tournament held by Goyang Culture Foundation, and was in need of three choirs. They suggested me to create a choir. I thought it was a great chance and started it since 2014," reminisced Lee. Now, he has great affection towards this choir, and explained that they are preparing for their third subscription concert this year. Lee is explaining the traits of his choir, Goyang Mixed Choir. As the conductor of Goyang Mixed Choir, Lee put great effort into his choir and therefore now has over 60 members. Lee showed great appreciation of the process of teaching the amateurs in his choir. It was his first time teaching people who didn’t have any professional skills, but found it charming. “It was actually fun to set up the people’s voices in the right way. They were curious on the vocalization methods, and were highly interested since my voice was different from theirs. I also felt thankful as they concentrated so much to sing better, and to be a better member of the choir," said Lee. Lee also mentioned of challenges he face as a leader of a choir. “Singing in chorus is a lot different from singing alone. Unlike solos who only have to focus on their own techniques, each individual in a choir has to control their voice and achieve a harmony the conductor intends. However, this is difficult for amateurs since they can easily be swept away by the different voices around them,” Lee explained. He emphasized that conductors in amateur choirs should give the members motivation and a sense of purpose, instead of making a forceful atmosphere. “Fully understanding their situation is one of the virtues a conductor should have,” Lee asserted. Living the life of an artist Lee was more of a painter than a musician when he was a high school student. The school choir he attended as a hobby was the only music life he encountered. However, through his senior who performed in an opera, Lee saw the backstage of an opera by chance. He was fascinated by the actions going on behind the scenes. After that, his senior suggested him to sing after listening to his song and Lee eventually worked on it for 3 more extra years before he ended up in the Department of Vocal Music in Hanyang University. After graduation, Lee made a debut in Rome. He applied for various contests and auditions to make a living overseas, and was scouted by Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music. He entered the school to extend his study in songs and received a better result. Despite his age and racial disadvantages, he was scouted by Cecilia Theatre even before he graduated. As the school did not allowed a debut while attending school, Lee resolutely gave up his diploma and stood on stage. After a few years, Lee had to come back to Korea due to personal issues, but he did not give up. He found his way through his talents, continuing his opera life and even working as a conductor of choirs and orchestras at the same time. "Music should be enjoyable to both professionals and non-professionals." Now Lee is both an outstanding singer and a conductor in Korea. However, he is still modest when he describes himself. “I am fully aware that I am not perfect. Therefore, I just try to do the best I can, testing my limits everyday”, Lee adverted. He also mentioned he wants to work in a more professional organization, but still wholeheartedly showed his passion towards his work. He constantly emphasized the interests he has towards assisting the members to achieve what they want. “I’m curious how long I can maintain this harmonization with the members. I don’t have a lot of intention to fulfill something in terms of music. I simply wish to maintain this positive relationship with my members for a long time,” said Kim. On Jung-yun jessica0818@hanyang.ac.kr Photos by Choi Min-ju

2017-07 31

[Alumni]Constructing Korea’s Food Culture

An ordinary food critic wouldn’t use a phrase ‘overturning tables’ in their reviews. However, a special food critic did. In the era where various social contexts influence all criticism, Lee Yong-jae (Department of Architectural Engineering, ’01) bravely expressed his opinions solely based on his thoughts through a book, The Dignity of Korean Dishes. Through his book, he emphasized his unique thoughts desiring for an improvement in Korean dishes. The dignity of Korean food On the 16th of June, a new book full of criticism on Korean dishes was released. “To make it simple, I just wanted to live a better life with better food.”, mentioned Lee. After living abroad and experiencing a different culture towards food, he felt the flaws of traditional Korean dishes. He started having doubts on traditions of Korean food. Lee asked himself, “Do we really have to drink hot soup in a ttukbaegi (an earthen bowl) when it’s obvious that you’ll burn the roof of your mouth? Is this truly a tradition or is it just a habit we never cared to question?” He came up with such unique questions and studied the fundamentals of cooking himself, extending his studies into the book, The Dignity of Korean Dishes. In his book, he points out the shortcomings of Korean dishes explicitly as a true food critic. Throughout his book, he uses expressions other critics wouldn’t commonly use. Lee defines his words as straightforward rather than provocative. “I dislike modifying and making up opinions for my own interests. When interests of people are intertwined, it’s hard to fully deliver the opinions of the food itself.” Lee explained. "Korean food is tasteless" is one of his comments that caught a lot of people’s attention in his recent publication. He explained that there are a number of meanings in this sentence. He asserted that "delicious" doesn’t stand solely for the food itself. “It’s not only the food on the plate I’m trying to assess. The service, plate settings or formality are the aspects that should be considered when assessing food.” The cover of Lee's book The Dignity of Korean Dishes. This is his second book, criticising the problems of Korean dishes. (photo courtesy of Banbi) A born critic Although Lee is currently a food critic who has reputation for having his own firm beliefs, his major can be seen less relevant. He did have an interest in cooking and even ran a blog on it since he started to cook for himself. However as his passion still lied in architecture, Lee left abroad to study further in 2002. He initially wanted to be a critic in architecture, so he had a job in America as an architectural designer. Lee came back to Korea in 2009, with determination to write as a living. He sent articles to numerous magazines, and started a column on architecture. However, as his interests toward food grew more than ever, he started writing various articles on food and came to the position where he is now at, solely concentrating on assessing food. “I continued writing on my blog and tried lots of Korean food, consequentially leading myself into a food critic. I would enter a random restaurant and write on my blog about the food. Then I would experiment on various methods and make the food for myself.”, Lee reminisced. Food = Architecture Lee commented that a plate of food is equivalent to an outcome of construction. “Food and architecture has a lot in common. They both require quite accurate information before they start, and have a three-dimensional visual result. The only difference would come from their durability", explained Lee. He asserted that the two subjects are incommensurable as they are important parts of uisiku (three basic elements of human life in Korea, standing for clothing, and shelter). Lee emphasized the importance of having an objective perspective point of view when evaluating a particular dish. “You have to stay away from the outer, social elements that could affect your judgement. Once you maintain a certain distance, you would be able to solely concentrate on the food you are eating.” Lee pointed out the weaknesses of Korean dishes through this point of view. “Korean food usually doesn’t make a good use of salt. They tend to season the food only through seasonings. Salt and seasonings have their own roles but Korean dishes don’t use this classification.” Lee wishes to promote the food culture of Korea. (photo courtesy of Lee) Changing the perception of food criticism is what Lee wishes to achieve through his career. “A lot of people don’t even realize food can be a subject of criticism. I wish people would be able to break this prejudice and live in a better food culture.” Moreover, he wishes to write more books related to food, such as food for people eating alone. “Food culture isn’t something sophisticated. It’s all about making a better quality of life with better quality of food, and that’s what really matters. I hope I could assist the development of Korean food throughout my career.” On Jung-yun jessica0818@hanyang.ac.kr

2017-07 03

[Alumni]A Shining Star in Operas and Musicals

A Verdi opera ‘Rigoletto’ came to an end on the 30th of June with loud applause from the audience. A renowned vocalist, Kim Soon-yeong (Department of Vocal Music, ’06), famous for both musicals and operas, caught the attention through the character named ‘Gilda’. She acted out the pure and innocent girl through her voice, leading the opera to a great hit. A soprano, stepping into a musical Opera vocal performers would frequently think that they would not be able to perform again in operas once they expand thier activities to musicals. However, Kim completely broke the stereotype through the character ‘Christine’ in the musical ‘Phantom’, which was premiered in 2015. She was casted by EMK music company through the music video ‘First Love’, composed by Kim Hyo-geun (Click to listen). “A lot of acquaintances tried to persuade me not to do it since they thought I wouldn’t be able to perform again in operas. But I didn’t want to miss an opportunity of new experiences," said Kim. Kim explaining her opportunity of starting musicals Of course, Kim was not a perfect actress from the beginning. She faced extreme hardships as she had to step into an entirely different area. The tempo of the musical was much faster than that of operas along with the increased number of acting scenes. “I wasn’t able to keep up with the other actors at first. The choir even ridiculed me during the practices. However, as I got better through persistent practice, the pure, passionate character of Christine became soundly mine and I gained more confidence.” Kim reminisced. She also mentioned that she was able to understand the character more deeply because of the fact that Christine came from the countryside, just like Kim who moved from Daejeon to Seoul to achieve her dream. As a result, Kim attained absolute success and became the only actress who took the role of Christine again in the second presentation of ‘Phantom’ this year. She remarked that she was able to act in a much more relaxed manner throughout the second presentation as she was extremely tensed up in the first one. Kim praised the features of musicals through her own experience. “I was never bored of acting even though I played the role of Christine numerous times. It felt new everytime with different actors of ‘Phantom’. They allowed me to feel different emotions each time I act on stage.” Kim performed as Christine 98 times in total, but she is confident that she enjoyed each and every performance. A scene of the musical 'Phantom'. The phantom of the opera 'Eric' is teaching songs to 'Christine' in the picture. (Photo courtesy of Kim) Kim’s significance of operas and musicals “I would never be able to choose between operas and musicals. They both have their own charming points.” said Kim. Formally, even when both performances practice for the same amount of time, operas usually have only 2 or 3 plays while musicals have much more plays; 50 for each presentation in the case of ‘Phantom’. Therefore, Kim pointed out that she can fully absorb the character of musicals throughout the acts but only feels like rehearsals with operas. Kim also pointed out the different focuses of each plays. Operas focus more deeply into music, while musicals put their priorities on acting. Therefore, Kim puts every ounce of her energy into her songs in operas. She explained that she can reach a state of catharsis through the concentration of her voice in the music. On the other hand, as musicals focus more in actions, Kim felt that they tend to be more energetic, diverse and colorful. Kim praised both areas for their own unique traits. "No one told me to sing. I just loved singing so much I searched for chances to sing." Kim anticipated that she would continue performing in both areas of operas and musicals. Her aspiration is later to be referred an all-rounder. “I’m not the best in any area. However, I think that’s the very reason I was able to try both of them, and make satisfying results.” Kim wished that she could inspire more of her junior colleagues to broaden their views and to challenge themselves in various areas. “Performances nowadays show a collaboration of various areas. Fitting to the trend, I wish opera vocal performers can also show active performances in areas other than just from their own.” Kim concluded. On Jung-yun jessica0818@hanyang.ac.kr Photos by Moon Ha-na