Stars, stripes … and strings in Seoul
“The Star-Spangled Banner” doesn’t quite resemble your typical chamber music repertoire, but it served as a most appropriate song selection for another historic and special occasion for Indiana University here in Seoul.
Members of the IU Chamber Orchestra continued their Asian debut in Seoul with a concert this evening at U.S. Garrison Yongsan, the headquarters for the U.S. military in Korea. Performing in front of American servicemen and servicewomen and their families, as well as South Korean military personnel, the 36-member student ensemble from IU’s renowned Jacobs School of Music, led by Jacobs faculty members Jorja Fleezanis and Stephen Wyrczynski, delivered a skillful and spirited show that, just like the group’s concert earlier this week at Seoul National University, left the audience standing and smiling in appreciation.
For IU’s talented young musicians, who spent a good part of the afternoon practicing at the base, the performance presented a wonderful opportunity to show their appreciation for the men and women who serve our country.
Indeed, this evening was truly about our Seoul-based military personnel who have worked tirelessly to preserve the peace in Korea and ensure a strong alliance between Korea and the U.S. Among them are at least two Hoosiers serving at Yongsan Garrison: Col. Shawn Stroud, a public affairs officer for the Eighth Army in Korea, who earned his master’s degree in kinesiology from the former the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, which is now known as the School of Public Health; and Col. Kenneth Newlin, an Indiana native and member of the Indiana Army National Guard, who is on a deployment as the command engineer for U.S. Special Operations Command-Korea.
After the playing of the national anthem and a warm IU welcome from Jacobs School Dean Gwyn Richards, IU President Michael A. McRobbie thanked the military members in attendance for their “exemplary service to our country.” He also saluted their “resilience” in the face of major change and upheaval. (The U.S. military is expected to relocate operations outside central Seoul later this year. Once the base is vacated, it will turn into a massive urban park.)
McRobbie concluded his remarks with a perfectly timed patriotic gesture, presenting base commander and retired Army Col. Henry Paul Stuart with a “challenge coin” commemorating the repatriation of the original prow of the USS Indiana battleship, which served in the Pacific during World War II and was the last ship to be named for the Hoosier state. (Per military tradition, commanders give out challenge coins in recognition of outstanding achievement by members of their unit and to build camaraderie and morale.)
With morale already high in the concert space and the orchestra ready to begin its program, Stuart offered a fitting response to McRobbie’s friendly “challenge,” quickly donning a red Jacobs School of Music hat and happily displaying it to an audience that, for the next hour, would be treated to the very best of IU’s acclaimed musical tradition.
It was nothing short of a command performance.
Tags: Gwyn Richards, IU Chamber Orchestra, Jacobs School of Music, Jorja Fleezanis, Korea, Michael A. McRobbie, School of Public Health, Seoul, Seoul National University, Stephen Wyrczynski, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan