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02/06/2018 Interview > Alumni

Title

Ekklesia: Under the Sound of Music

The story of a popera singer

박주현

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http://www.hanyang.ac.kr/surl/6ybU

Contents
In today's competitive society, our lives tend to be labeled as either a failure or a success--two contrasting concepts that one wishes to completely avoid or achieve. But the simple truth that people fail to recognize is that there can be no great success without failure. A model example of this is Kim Jae-bin (Vocal Music, '13), the lead singer of a popera group called Ekklesia. 

 
On the rise
 
Holding a long list of stage experience and media exposure, Kim is an active, rising star in the popera field continuously working his way up to success as the leader as well as the CEO of Ekklesia (Ekklesia Enterprise). Now a well-known popera group, it consists of three members including Kim himself. The term “Ekklesia” itself is a Greek word defined as “an assembly under God’s calling." It well incorporates Kim’s dream to perform songs that both singers and the audience can emotionally relate to and return with a bit of peace and happiness. However, it was not always a path full of bliss for Kim to get to where he is today. In particular, back when he first started out as a popera singer, it was one bumpy road that not many wanted to risk taking.

“Popera,” also known as operatic pop, is a subgenre of pop music that is performed in an operatic singing style or a song. As it is a more popularized version of classic opera among the public, one would think that it is a positive trend in the classical music industry. However, in the beginning, it was perceived as some sort of heresy and received heavy criticism from the field. Likewise, Kim was also skeptical before taking this path until his life mentor and professor in charge at that time strongly suggested that he try out for a popera group called “UAngel Voice,” which would then provide him with abundant stage experience and financial support. After two years as a ‘Uangel Voice’ member, he did not want to quit as “it allows me to feel the instant connection with the audience as it has more interaction than classical opera performances. This ultimately led me to create Ekklesia," said Kim.
 
UAngel Voice stage rehearsal, 2012
(Photo courtesy of Kim)

Walking down the rough path

 
Kim's background story was surprisingly full of rough patches that started out with “I had nothing more to lose as I was starting from scratch. Whatever I challenged myself with, even if there was a huge chance of failing, I knew that there could only be a way up for me.”

At one point, Kim even had to work as a salesman in an insurance company to financially support Ekklesia. Despite these hardships, he never refrained from challenging himself to try new things. “I like the term ‘전화위복’ (转祸为福; misfortune turns into a blessing). My years of experience at the insurance company allowed me to truly understand all the hardships these people were going through everyday at work. I then incorporated it in my message to these people through the songs I performed for them. It was quite successful, and I was able to sign long-term contracts with other large companies to perform at their workshops and seminars.”
 

Fear of failure: the only hindrance to reaching your dream 

 
For Kim, one of the most meaningful performances was from back when his group gave hour-long performances on stages in the metro stations. "One time, this mother and a child who had been watching our entire performance bought a huge cake and coffee for us. The mother thanked us for our performance and told us that her daughter who actually hated music, insisted that they stay and watch till the end. She had never seen her so happy. This was the moment when it really hit me, that I was doing something meaningful. From then on, my passion for music grew, and I have never hesitated to try something new.” 
 
Kim with a mother and her child after performing at Sadang station, 2014
(Photo courtesy of Kim) 

When asked if he thinks he is now successful, Kim said yes without a doubt. Kim’s definition of success was being able to proudly perform a piece that is not only the collaboration of pop and opera, but a collaboration of everybody’s heart: mix and intercommunication of our dreams and feelings. He added that, right now, he is truly happy only because he knows the starting point of his path – how it was before, his past experiences and so on, and also because he has a lifelong goal. “I hope that my popera successors will dream big but fear less. If we look carefully, there are many stages we can perform on although it may not be as financially rewarding or live up to one’s expectations. Don’t let your fear of failure blind you from all those chances out there and end up only looking for short-cuts to success.”
  
 

Ekklesia performing "Love" 
(Video courtesy of Kim)
 

Kim Jae-bin - Le Temps des Cathédrales
(Video courtesy of Kim)
 

Park Joo-hyun        julia1114@hanyang.ac.kr
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