Seoul Arts Center's new president will focus more on 'pure performances'

Pianist Chang Hyoung-joon, the newly appointed president of the Seoul Arts Center, speaks during a press conference held on Thursday at the IBK Chamber Hall of the arts center in southern Seoul. [YONHAP]

Pianist Chang Hyoung-joon, who became the new president of the Seoul Arts Center, said Thursday that the country’s top art complex will stage more pure art form performances like opera and ballet and less musicals, during his three-year term.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism appointed Chang, who is a well-established pianist and a professor at Seoul National University, on June 17. On Thursday, Chang met with local reporters for the first time since his appointment and said he’s been drawing up a plan on how to run the arts center for the past three months.

“We have a great Opera Theater. It was established specifically for opera and ballet performances. However, it’s true that the theater couldn’t really live up to its name,” said Chang. Chang said that visitors will definitely notice the change from next year and see more operas and ballets being performed there.

Chang said the upcoming Opera Gala, which attempts to showcase highlight arias from important opera performances will “signal the start of that change.” The Opera Gala takes place from Oct. 21 to 23.

More experimental performances of various genres including dance and plays will be presented at the CJ Towol Theater and the Jayu Theater, which functions as a black box theater.

Chang said more online performances will be created in the next three years at the new studio that was built in May and added that the arts center’s Hangaram Art Museum will also undergo a renovation next year as the building is getting too old.

More great news for frequenters of Seoul Arts Center is, according to Chang, that a new mobile application is on the way. The new app will allow visitors to purchase tickets, see ongoing programs and also pay for parking without having to wait in long lines, which was a frequent complaint. The app is set to launch at the end of this year. Chang said the arts center will eventually get rid of paper tickets and encourage people to use mobile tickets.

The Culture Ministry’s appointment of Chang came as a surprise to many as he is perceived by the public as a celebrated pianist who has zero experience in administration.

“This stage of IBK Chamber Hall is very familiar to me but I’ve never imagined myself standing here without a piano,” he said during the press conference on Thursday. “In terms of management, I don’t think there’s so much difference between managing the Seoul Arts Center and the College of Music of a university.”

Chang, who has been a professor at Seoul National University’s College of Music since 1995, said he’s had numerous experiences in managing big and small events and performances, overseas festivals and so on for the school and that it’s helping him a lot with his new post.