Chamber music festival regains spring in its step

The annual Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music is held at various venues including the residence of Yun Bo-seon, Korea's second president, in central Seoul. [SSF]

The annual Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music (SSF) has shaken off the heavy undertones of the last two years, inevitable with the coronavirus pandemic, and regained its spring festive mood. The change of atmosphere for this year’s 17th edition, which kicks off on April 22, can be instantly sensed in the festival’s poster, featuring artwork with vernal hues. The work is by contemporary Korean artist Maria Chang and is entitled “In Between – Spring Series (Baby pink).”

This year's SSF poster features Korean contemporary artist Maria Chang's "In Between - Spring Series (Baby pink)." [SSF]

“The festival has had a rather heavy theme for the past two years, therefore, we decided to pick this work that shows the beautiful color of azaleas in the spring to show our intention of going back to the festive mood,” said an official from the organizing committee. Festival organizers have selected works by renowned artists to create posters for the annual festival since 2009.

“Cellissino!” is the theme of this year’s SSF, bringing the cello into the limelight. In 2011, it focused on the piano under the theme “Pianissimo!” and in 2012 the violin under the theme “Mystical Voice.”

There will be 12 performances over the course of 13 days and all will include a cello piece in the program. For example, during the opening concert “Anniversaries” on April 22 at the Sejong Chamber Hall of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, cellist Kang Seung-min and pianist Chloe Jiyeong Mun will perform Scriabin’s “Romance for Cello and Piano.” On April 26 at the IBK Chamber Hall of the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul, five cellists will be on stage to perform Boccherini’s "Cello Quintet No. 60 G324 'Night Music of the Streets of Madrid.'”

If you want to pick one program to see an array of cello performances, you should circle May 1 on your calendar for the “Family Concert: Originals and Variations,” which will be held at IBK ChamberHall. The first part of the concert will be all about the cello. The program includes different pieces for a different number of cellos, such as Offenbach’s “Duo for 2 Cellos in E Major, Op. 54 No. 2 3rd Mov.,” Popper’s “Requiem for 3 Cellos and Piano,” Strauss’s “Pizzicato Polka for 4 Cellos,” Fitzenhagen’s “Ave Maria for 4 Cellos, Op. 41,” Haldenberg’s “Bossa nova-pizzicato, Tango Sentimental, Rumba for 4 Cellos,” among others.

The signature concert of the annual SSF is the outdoor concert at the hanok (traditional Korean-style house) residence of the late Yun Bo-seon, who was Korea's second president between 1960 and 1962. It will be held on May 2 and The program includes Ravel’s “Ma Mere l’Oye for Piano 4 hands” by ShinPark Duo and Dvorak’s “String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96 ‘American,’ 4th Mov.” by Novus Quartet.

Tickets range from 20,000 won ($16.40) to 60,000 won for all performances except the concert at Yun Bo-seon’s hanbok, which costs 150,000 won. The SSF will run from April 22 to May 4 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Seoul Arts Center’s IBK Hall and the late President Yun Bo-seon’s hanok residence. For more information, visit