At Dr. Yoon’s request I gave a three hour seminar on composition for about twenty young composers, as well as a few choral conductors who attended. The topic was “Craft and Creativity” and my premise was that a composer needs to address both issues and strive for balance. We had a number of long discussions about this and also wound up on tangents that were pretty cool. I talked a bit about African-American spirituals and the arranging process there, and they had a few questions about jazz as well, particularly how to add jazz elements into a score effectively. There were some questions about writer's block (composer's block?) which were tough to answer as this is usually not a problem for me.
Dr. Yoon also asked me to give them names of American composers who are writing creatively for choirs. I mentioned Paul Crabtree, Matthew Harris, Ola Gjeillo, Stephen Hatfield, and the Canadian composer Stephen Chatman. I also found an opportunity to introduce the music of my friend Reg Unterseher to them; we examined his very beautiful setting of Sicut Cervus published by Oxford and I left Dr. Yoon with a number of Reg’s scores.
All in all, I think the seminar went well and I made a number of new friends there. The folks in attendance seemed to be very serious about their work, and I appreciated that they wanted to subject themselves to listening to me for three hours! I also realize just now as I type that the majority of those in attendance were young women- so it appears that new Korean music has strong female leadership which I think is wonderful. After that, we had a nice light dinner at a nearby restaurant and Kelley drove me back to the hotel. I then hit the neighborhood streets all by myself and explored the neon of the night as well as the street vendor alley areas which extend for long distances behind the main streets. Here you can find vendors offering yummy street food, amazing produce & grains, every kind of fresh seafood you could imagine, including little squids staring back at you with their big eyes, toy shops, carpet and textiles, clothing; you name it- it’s there. My last stop on the stroll was a sweet little bar/café called “So Cool”, which was decorated very quaintly. Here are some random photos I took on my stroll.
Next Post: Sightseeing in Insa-Dong and elsewhere, and a whole lot more Korean food!