Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 ACDA performance- Incheon City Chorale

(Paul Carey & Hakwon Yoon - ACDA 2009)

Greetings! Yes, this is my first blog-woohoo. I'm going to travel back a few weeks to talk about some of the choirs that performed at the American Choral Director's Association (ACDA) 50th anniversary convention in Oklahoma City.

It takes some pretty cool stuff to make me gush, but I am going to do just that about the Incheon City Chorale, directed by the amazing Hakwon Yoon. Their progr
am consisted of three modernized pieces of Korean folk music plus the Whitacre When David Heard. The Korean music, all incredibly electric pieces by a young composer named Hyowon Woo, just floored the entire audience. The pieces were presented using various degrees of lighting/stage effects, drumming, antiphonal spacing, stage movement, etc. This music was so powerful and creative on so many levels that the Whitacre was actually an unneeded interruption (no offense intended to EW). I'm sure their intent was to showcase their choir singing some American music, but really, most of the people I talked to just wished we could have heard their own core repertoire for the full performance (and for a few hours more perhaps).

This is a choir of 50 dedicated professional singers between the ages of 28-45, but they sounded like about 150 singers when singing full voice- wow. I've heard the Chicago Symphony Chorus at 150 voices or so (Schoenberg's Moses and Aron, conducted by Boulez) so I know whereof I speak.They could roar through a ff passage (the only choir all week who had the mass of sound and incredible overtone production to make the concert space "ring") and switch to a pp texture at any moment, and possessed the ability to paint far more than the single tone color many of our American choirs present. The conductor's chops were blowing everyone away- the minimal use of gesture to create any sound desired- a great lesson to all conductors not to overconduct! Mr. Yoon at times looked as if he were at some sort of invisible magic floating console which he barely had to touch to create the sound he desired. Obviously, the choir has amazing discipline and a shared goal of excellence. Their love of the music and texts and of performing to an appreciative audience was especially loved by all. As they left the stage to our thunderous applause they all waved to us and grinned from ear to ear- they had as much fun performing as we did listening to them. I will have to say that this is the best choir I have ever heard (and I've hear some good ones for sure).

I was lucky enough run into Mr. Yoon and the choir at the airport on my way back to Chicago. I introduced myself and gushed over the performance, kind of feeling like a little kid talking to his major league baseball hero! Mr. Yoon and the choir were very gracious, asked about what I do, and we took turns shooting photos. No diva attitudes here- just wonderful, gracious, smiling talented real people. It was great fun to meet them.

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