the cmrc blog
Isang Yun Remembered – remembered!
Three Videos from the Isang Yun Remembered Recording Project
Music by Isang Yun, Roger Marsh, and John Stringer. Performed by Anna Myatt (soprano), Ching-Han Lin (viola), and Jin Hyung Lim (piano). Supported by the CMRC, the Isang Yun Memorial Centre, and the Tongyeong International Music Festival
Although Isang Yun is relatively well-known in parts of Asian and Western countries, many of his works have been neglected by the wider public. Yun’s work challenges performers due to its emotional intensity and demand for technical dexterity. Even more, he represents controversy in his native South Korea because of a connection to North Korea.
In 2017, there was a resurgence of interest in Yun. As announced by The New York Times and the music publisher Boosey & Hawkes, various concerts featuring Yun’s works were taking place in 2017, not only in South Korea, but across Europe, to celebrate the centenary of Yun’s birth. The concerts were performed by artists spanning small ensembles to large orchestras, Here are some highlights: the Isang-Yun Ensemble Berlin, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Arditti Quartet, the Tongyeong Festival Orchestra, and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra all featured Yun’s works at the Tongyeong International Music Festival (TIMF) in South Korea from March to April. Also, the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin presented Yun’s works in the Musikfest Berlin in September. In June, the Novus Quartet gave a premiere of the String Quartet No. 1 in Barcelona and the cellist Matt Haimovitz gave the Austrian premiere of Yun’s biographical cello concerto with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, conducted by Dennis Russel Davies. In November, the Biennial for Modern Music, which was held in Frankfurt Rhein-Main, played the documentary Isang Yun – In Between North and South Korea.
In the U.K., there were three events for the centenary of Yun. The London Philharmonic Orchestra presented a concert entitled Music of Today: Isang Yun, where the U.K. premiere of Pièce concertante for chamber ensemble (1976) was performed, along with Teile dich Nacht for soprano and chamber ensemble (1980) on March 2, 2017. BBC Arts in the partnership with the Hebrides Ensemble broadcast a live streaming concert East West in March 13, 2017, and Yun’s Espace I for cello and piano (1992) was added to the concert repertoire.
For the last event in the U.K., I organised and performed a concert entitled Isang Yun Remembered as a part of my Ph.D. project at the National Centre for Early Music in York on June 6, 2017. This concert has a significance that not only celebrated the centenary of Yun’s birth in the U.K., but also it was a cultural event to introduce Yun’s music to the York community. The program included new works in remembrance of Isang Yun by Roger Marsh and John Stringer from the CMRC.
With the success of the performance as well as welcoming and supportive comments by the audience members, I was encouraged to release an album featuring the same repertoire as the concert. I was very grateful to receive the support of the CMRC, the Isang Yun Memorial Centre, and the TIMF.
In accordance with the philosophies of Erving Goffman, Judith Butler, and Steph Lawler, we become ourselves through ‘performing our selves.’ (Lawler 2014) Supported by three institutions from different continents and with the collaboration of multiple individuals including the composer Yun himself in various cultural, generational, regional, and situational contexts, this album crosses the boundary of East and West, and embodies our multiple identities, to the extent that it could be considered a social product of performing those identities.
The production of the CD album is in process, expected to be released in August, yet I would like to post three videos to the CMRC blog today, on the occasion of the retirement of an artistic and departmental luminary Roger Marsh who wrote some special music for me.
Isang Yun, Duo for viola and piano (1976)
John Stringer, Pansori for viola and piano (2017)
Roger Marsh, But Still… for soprano, viola, and piano (2017)