Volume 4 / Chapter 148
[TN: And it all comes full circle…..!]
When the standing conductor Simon Lettle slowly walked out onto the stage, there was thunderous clapping and whistling in the concert hall.
Simon Lettle was appointed as the successor to the great ‘Claudio Abbado’. Sir Lettle did receive a lot of criticism that he had used the Berlin Philharmonic as an instrument to perform in the German Romanticism.
However, he transformed the classical and romantic Berlin Philharmonic into modern music with his skills.
The Berlin Philharmonic that he promoted so enthusiastically succeeded in the internet broadcast ‘Digital Concert Hall,’ making it a corporate net with a lot of profits. He was assessed exotically as the conductor with the best business mind and that he is a unique person.
The first song of the concert, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, ended and the audience was full of hype. It is the song that Jun Hyuk performed for the conductor auditions. If his performance was an uneasy racing, Simon Lettle only performed the racing without the uneasiness. It allowed them to experience the danger of crashing on the track and the deafening roar of the cars racing by.
Sarill Petrenko appeared on the stage to the sound of the applause. Sarill Petrenko hugged the conductor lightly and sat in front of the piano. The audience broke out in applause again.
“Look. I told you I was right! This is the first time in more than 10 years that Petrenko is playing the piano.”
The students could not hide their surprise. He once received the high praise as a pianist that he is the second coming of Chopin, but he was rarely seen playing the piano once he went into conducting. Their legs were stiff from standing all the way in the back for about 40 minutes, but their exhaustion disappeared completely once Petrenko sat in front of the piano. Everyone forgot about the pain in their legs and got lost in Petrenko’s performance.
As it is not an ordinary concert, they had selected 2 of Mozart’s songs that would be suitable for a public participating in a festival.
When the piano symphony ended, the 2 maestros stood next to each other and bowed to the audience. With the last special performance left, the audience imagined that Simon Lettle might play the piano again.
Simon Lettle took the mic that the host gave him.
“Next is the special performance, which I’m sure you all are most curious about. I struggled with all of my strength, but this is a monstrous song that is like drinking something bitter. However, our Berlin Philharmonic succeeded with the divine maestro Petrenko.”
The audience did not know what he meant by monstrous, but they applauded to the words that it was a success. Simon Lettle handed the mic and baton to Sarill Petrenko, and went behind the stage.
Sarill Petrenko stood on the podium and the audience got lost in their excitement. They felt like they had been chosen to see what could only be seen in 3 years.
Sarill Petrenko calmed down the clapping and cheering audience and put the mic to his mouth.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. I’m sure you’ve all guessed, but all that is left is a very special performance.”
The audience was in a stir at the mention of a special performance. It meant that it is not a known song, so that the conductor must take the mic himself and explain it to the audience.
“Now, we will be giving a very important performance for the Berlin Philharmonic. It has never been performed and we do not know who the composer is. Maestro Sir Lettle said that it is monstrous, but it is like a map to a treasure island with only the 1st sheet.”
When he said treasure island, Jun Hyuk and the students in the back of the concert hall started cheering, bringing the hall into excitement again. The first performance of this music. The opportunity to see a premiere is a chance that will never come again.
The maestro smiled brightly at the audience and continued his explanation.
“Truthfully, this song is a masterpiece that has gone back and forth between many maestros I admire for the past year or so.”
The audience grew more curious at the word masterpiece.
“And I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but it was something like an unspoken competition between conductors of several orchestras around the world. It was about who would be the first to get this song out to the world. That is how difficult this song is to perform.”
The maestro turned around and signaled to the orchestra members. When they received the signal, more than half of them put on headphones.
The audience stirred up again at this strange action.
“Listening to this song is pain itself. It is to the point where it is almost impossible for us, the performers, to play the song. That’s why we have to resort to strange methods like this.”
The audience began to whisper again. What difficult techniques were necessary that they even use the expression of pain? And that from the top class Berlin Philharmonic.
“Ladies and gentlemen. If this song is too hard to listen to, you may get up and leave at anytime. It is not an issue of courtesy. It is a song where I can understand why you cannot stay to listen. I guarantee that there won’t be more than 10 people who stay to listen to this 10 minute song all the way to the end.”
The audience thought that another type of modern music would appear. Even with the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece, half of the audience had left in the middle of the performance.
This is not the 19th or 20th century however. This is the 21st century when even silence is recognized as music. The audience thought that the maestro’s explanation had been severely exaggerated.
They just expected it to be that difficult of a song.
“The title written on the score is Symphony No. 1 in A Major, but we the conductors created a subtitle. It is ‘Inferno’.”
Inferno, meaning hell’s fire. What kind of song could it be that it appears with the subtitle Inferno? The audience gulped.
“What do you think? Isn’t it an excellent choice? This is the moment that we are premiering an unknown composer. And by the Berlin Philharmonic.”
The bandmaster who had exchanged seats at the Vienna Philharmonic into standing tickets felt like his decision had been justified by this moment.
Jun Hyuk’s face was full of anticipation as well. It is a surprise and a happiness to listen to a totally new form of modern music. What he could not understand still, was why more than half of the performers would need to wear headphones.
What they could expect is the difficulty of the tempo. Is the beat so hard that they need guidance from a metronome like a drummer? Or is it a temporary solution to make up for the lack of time to practice?
When he had caught the tail of the question, the performance began.
Jun Hyuk meant to lean on the wall and relax while enjoying the music. When the first measure flowed out however, he went weak and sat on the ground. The music stirred in his head without having to listen to it.
As the performance continued, the music became overwhelmed by the noise. No, the music and noise from the audience mixed to the point of indistinction.
The uncomfortable moaning and swearing that came from all over the audience, and the sound of people slamming their seats to leaving grew louder.
“Dies ist keine musik!”
The ones who cover their ears and leave silently are the patient music lovers. They are leaving while showing the last courtesy. Most were ragging and swearing. A few even spit on the ground and left the concert hall.
A few people from Jun Hyuk’s group had already left the hall and the bandmaster, who had been showing the most patience, pulled on Jun Hyuk’s hand.
“Jun, let’s go. This is insane. This isn’t music. I think I’m going to puke.”
Jun Hyuk took his hand out of the bandmaster’s. The bandmaster looked at Jun Hyuk for a moment and could not take anymore, running out.
Not even 5 minutes had passed when the hall was empty. When the 10 minute performance ended, there were only 5 people in their seats as the maestro had ensured and they were sitting with frowns on their faces.
The remaining 5 people are not ordinary people, but reporters on assignment. They had endured the performance in order to write their articles. The performance ended, but conductor Sarill Petrenko was gripping the podium handrails and panting.
The performance was only 10 minutes, but the conductor, performers, and reporters could not speak for more than 10 minutes in order to catch their breaths. When the concert hall was full of silence, conductor Petrenko coughed and turned to the audience.
When he bowed, the only person standing all the way in the back of the hall clapped.
Surprisingly, he is a white-haired elderly man. Jun Hyuk, who was still sitting on the ground, looked at the old gentleman, but could not tell who he is. He does look familiar though.
When the orchestra members and conductor left the stage, the reporters who had stayed in their seats until the very end also left. The old gentleman who had clapped, got up slowly and walked with difficulty.
Jun Hyuk could not move until the theater was completely empty.