The sounds of opportunity in Seoul
Back home in Indiana, it’s spring break. But don’t tell that to the 36 student musicians in the Indiana University Chamber Orchestra, who have been tasked with making history this week here in Seoul, South Korea.
Part of the first-ever Asian tour by IU’s world-renowned Jacobs School of Music, the students, who are led by Jacobs faculty members Jorja Fleezanis and Stephen Wyrczynski, are showcasing their talents to various Korean audiences in four performances over five nights, all while serving as global ambassadors for their university and squeezing in a bit of Korean culture when they’re not busy practicing and performing.
Still feeling the effects of a 14-hour plane ride, they somehow managed to deliver a stirring performance Wednesday afternoon at prestigious Seoul National University. The 400-member audience included IU President Michael A. McRobbie and his fellow delegation members, standing and applauding enthusiastically at the time of the final bows.
From the opening notes of Rossini’s “Overture to Il signor Bruschino” to the surprise encore of a specially arranged Korean folk song that brought knowing smiles to the faces of the many Korean students in the concert hall, it was clear that a little jet lag, cool rain and clouds weren’t going to dampen the spirit of this momentous occasion for IU and SNU, as they seek to grow a longstanding collaborative relationship.
Just minutes before the IU Chamber Orchestra took the stage, the deans of IU’s top-ranked Jacobs School and the internationally acclaimed College of Music at SNU signed a partnership agreement that will help initiate new exchange programs for students and faculty in the areas of music education, performance and research, and could also lead to the development of joint programs and projects.
For now, though, the students who have given up their spring break to come halfway across the world to Korea can bask in the glow of this afternoon’s rousing performance and an artistic, cultural and educational experience they’ll take with them wherever they go after leaving IU. For seven members of the orchestra, the trip reflects a homecoming, making it extra special.
“The decision to take a gifted group of our students outside the United States to perform is, in and of itself, a tremendous vote of confidence to them and to the school,” Fleezanis had said prior to the performance. “Leaving their home turf of Bloomington to face audiences in a major international city will spark a level of growth and confidence like no other they will receive during their time in school. It will teach them the importance of art as the universal language and provide perspective.
The IU Chamber Orchestra will be back at it on Friday for what’s bound to be a memorable performance for U.S. military personnel stationed at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan. Its members will culminate their historic trip the following evening with a concert at the Seoul Arts Center, Korea’s foremost art and culture complex.
“The tools and skills [the students] have attained at the Jacobs School of Music will carry them through this exciting week of four performances in four different venues,” Fleezanis added. “They will be forever changed by this.”
A reminder: Check the Jacobs School of Music special South Korea Trip 2015 blog for stories and perspectives from members of the IU Chamber Orchestra as they tour Seoul.