Sejong Soloists, which meets its 15th anniversary, will begin a tour of Korea, Saturday at Seoul Arts Center. /Courtesy of Sejong Soloists
By Lee Hyo-won
Various string concerts are lined up for March, and will melt away the last winter chills with mellifluous music. This weekend, fans should not miss performances by the internationally acclaimed Sejong Soloists and newly launched Quartrabratsche.
Sejong Soloists will tour South Korea beginning with Seoul on Saturday for their 15th anniversary and the release of their latest album, ``Passion'' (Universal).
Named after the famous Korean king, Sejong Soloists was founded in New York in 1994 by Hyo Kang, and the conductor-less string ensemble has been ``taking the world by storm with their expert playing, upbeat image and egalitarian approach to performance'' (Muso Magazine).''
Their previous album, ``This is Vivaldi,'' showed that the composer's overplayed ``Four Seasons'' can take on freshness, and made its way to Hollywood when it was featured in the soundtrack of ``Hellboy 2.'' ``Passion'' revisits the classic, but this time the group jazzes it up with Astor Piazzolla's tango tunes, ``The Fours Seasons of Buenos Aires.''
``Somehow Piazzolla's music is so good and somehow universal in character that in each formation, in any formation, it shines through,'' said violinist Stefan Milenkovich.
The group brings fun, dynamic tunes bursting with full, orchestral colors, offering something that sounds familiar yet distinct. The album also includes solos by violist Richard Yongjae O'Neill and soprano Hyunah Yu. For the upcoming concert, former members, including star cellist Young Song (Song Young-hoon), will join the group.
The first concert will take place at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, at Seoul Arts Center. Sejong Soloists will play March 10 in Ulsan; March 11 in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province; March 12 in Daegu; and March 14 in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province. They will continue to tour the United States in April and Canada in July. Call (02) 584-5494.
The warm, human voice of the viola makes it instrumental to any given chamber or orchestral ensemble.
Star musician Richard Yonjae O'Neill helped show that the viola, often eclipsed by the neighboring violin and cello, has soloist potential in South Korea. A special treat for chamber music fans is the upcoming performance by Quartrabratsche, a project group comprising four violists.
The members will play works by Tchaikovsky, Paganini, Schubert and Beethoven, among others, in duos, trios and quartets. The concert will take place Sunday at the Recital Hall, Seoul Arts Center. Call (02) 586-0945.