Seo Tai-ji, in the picture below, Korea’s leading musician, performed with Royal Philharmonic Saturday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, mixing rock with classical music. Leading the Philharmonic was conductor Tolga Kashif, in the left picture. / Yonhap
By Han Sang-hee
The autumn night was chilly but fans were ecstatic as Korean pop star Seo Tai-ji appeared on stage at the ``Great 2008 Seotaiji Symphony with Tolga Kashif & Royal Philharmonic'' Saturday night at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
After his successful rock festival ``ETP FEST 2008'' a month ago, the 36-year-old singer reappeared with plans of a special project that infuses his rock music with classical tunes. With hoards of fans lining up in front of the stadium long before the concert was to begin, it was clear that fans welcomed the singer and English maestro's collaboration.
The concert started with Kashif, who has previously worked with David Bowie, Elton John and U2, leading the 65-member orchestra to a prologue. Strong drumbeats followed, signaling the start of the ``classic meets rock'' themed performance.
``Hi, everybody! Can you feel the beautiful melodies? I promise this will be a memorable performance,'' Seo said after singing ``Take 1'' and ``Take 2.''
More than 60 members from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra worked with Seo and Kashif for the past six months, bringing out the best of Seo's music of 16 years with a classical twist.
The concert venue seemed a bit too spacious to appreciate the orchestra, which was buried under the electric sounds of Seo's band, but fans were more than excited to see the singer experimenting with his music.
After performing ``F.M. Business'' and ``Internet War,'' Seo sang ``Moai,'' the title song of his recent single ``Seotaiji 8th Atomos Part Moai.'' Originally a rock number, the song was rearranged as a dreamy ballad.
The orchestra started to play ``T'ik T'ak Fantasia,'' which was based on Seo's song ``T'ik T'ak,'' when the screen on the back of the stage started to part, revealing a 60-member choir, adding depth to the already grand-scaled music.
With the choir singing along, Seo continued with ``Heffy End'' and ``Eternity.''
Before he sang one of his hit numbers ``Gyosil Idea,'' which literally means ``Classroom Idea'' and criticizes Korea's education system, with rapper Masta Wu, Seo even expressed his concern of the unchanged school system.
``This song came out in 1993, but I don't think much has changed in terms of our education system. You know you are the ones who can change this, right?'' said Seo to screaming fans.
After a rather short show of an hour and 20 minutes, Seo finished with ``Come Back Home,'' sharing his overwhelming feelings of pulling off such a big project.
``Today is a historic day and you are the witnesses. Even my parents are here to watch the show. Working with an orchestra was like a dream. I can't believe how fast time flies,'' he said, thanking Kashif with a hug.
Seo left the stage but returned after a few minutes with a black fedora singing encores ``Adagio,'' and ``I Know'' with fans.
With his last good-byes and thank-yous, Seo finally left the stage, throwing his fedora to the shouting fans.
The concert proved that classical music doesn't have to be enjoyed in a formal manner, but even in an open space with friends and family. Although some fans complained that the concert was too short considering the cost of tickets, which ranged from 88,000 won to 165,000 won, Seo once again proved his star power within the Korean music scene.