Volume 5 / Chapter 165
[TN: The Maestro begins his challenge]
Jun Hyuk left the hotel early the next morning. His invitation to Boston was the top story in the culture column, and his articles were all over the internet. Even the BSO homepage had pictures of him, proving that the articles are true. It is best to get out before the reporters come swarming in.
Jun Hyuk went to the park that people of Boston love most. Boston Common is America’s first park. It is 60,000 acres, so there is no one who would recognize him in his sweatpants and hoodie.
He had come to the park to get some exercise because he remembered that Philadelphia’s conductor Bruno Kazel said that conducting is a matter of stamina.
He repeated running and resting during the morning, ate a sandwich for lunch, and walked around Boston. Other than picking up Tara’s calls every hour to tell her not to worry, he was able to tour the city without interruptions.
When the sun started setting, he went back to the hotel, carefully looked around the lobby, and found that Tara was still in interviews. She had gone through the busiest day on Jun Hyuk’s behalf.
While Tara acted instead of Jun Hyuk in the lobby, Jun Hyuk had been able to spend plenty of time thinking about how he would hold the first rehearsal.
Jun Hyuk arrived at the concert hall early on the morning of the first rehearsal of Inferno, and had a cup of coffee with Patrick Quinn.
“Jun, I don’t know if you know but I’m saying just in case…..”
“The members are creating performer unions for the Boston Philharmonic.”
“Why? You didn’t know?”
“No. I had no idea.”
Patrick Quinn saw Jun Hyuk’s surprised face and remembered the first time he stood on the podium. He wanted to make it so that Jun Hyuk would not have to experience the incredulity that he had felt.
“Since they are employees of the BSO (Boston Symphony Orchestra). They are paid a salary to work.”
Upon leaving school, everything revolves around ‘work’.
“The performers meet with the BSO to go over salaries and conditions every year, but there’s just one thing that you need to know.”
“What is that?”
“Break times and times you work.”
“Excuse me? Break times?”
“Yeah. This isn’t just the case for Boston, but the same anywhere around the world.”
“Well, I can understand working ties but what are breaks in rehearsals?”
“After about 1 hour of practicing, you must give them 10 minutes to rest.”
“What? It’s not school. What is this 10 minutes for every hour?”
“Why? Isn’t it like that in Korea?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know the circumstances in Korea… Then does that mean I have to cut off rehearsals in the middle of a song and give them a break? Is that even possible?”
“Even the orchestra members know that much. Normally, you can say that it’s time for a break once whatever you’re practicing is over.”
Jun Hyuk heard the word ‘normally’ loudly. Then that means that there are circumstances that are not normal.
“But it’s quite delicate. When the members are having fun or lost in the passion of the song, they don’t ask to take a break. They don’t realize that time is passing either.”
“Ah, I see how that would happen.”
“But when the conductor says nonsense, the conducting is boring, and the performance isn’t fun, they’ll keep the break times without any other thought. Since they can’t focus on the music and performance, they’ll keep looking at the time. As you said, they’ll cut it off in the middle of a song. Ha ha.”
Patrick Quinn chuckled as if it were something funny. When Jun Hyuk heard his laughter, he realized why the members take breaks.
“I see. So the reactions of the conductor and members…..”
“That’s it. You’ll be able to check by looking at the breaks.”
With more breaks and more punctual breaks, it means that the members cannot trust the conductor or that there are differences in musical views that cannot be resolved.
“Maestro Quinn. Then…..”
“Hey Jun, I told you to call me Patrick. If not, I’m going to make sure to call you Maestro Jun too.”
Patrick Quinn glared at Jun Hyuk and shook his finger at him.
“Ah, haha. Alright. Patrick. Then what were the breaks for members like in Vienna? Did they take their breaks on time?”
“What? You’re asking such a straight question? That’s scary. Ha ha.”
There is bitterness in his laughter.
“There were more breaks as time went by. They never missed a break since we started Inferno. They even made sure to leave work exactly on time. They had sent a signal that they cannot do it while I kept pushing it on them.”
On the one hand, it is understandable. The Vienna Philharmonic’s roots are as an orchestra of Vienna’s court opera theater. Its unique color is that it focuses on tradition and is against modern music.
Their focus on things of the past is not stubbornness. Their thinking is that the Vienna Philharmonic is not the one that needs to be performing contemporary music. Their sense of duty to enrich the classics is more important to them.
“Alright, let’s go to the theater. I’m going to see how many times they rest during your rehearsal. Ha ha.”
All of the orchestra members were waiting for Jun Hyuk in comfortable clothing. Their looks did not show any tension and were just full of curiosity.
Patrick Quinn had repeatedly said that he is a genius, but the only exposed fact is that he is the composer of Inferno. Other than that, his claims to fame are not in classical but in jazz and rock. There are a lot of geniuses who leave 1 good song and disappear.
Jun Hyuk took in all of this attention and went up to the podium. He left the baton on the music stand and spoke,
“Honestly, I cannot understand why this song causes pain. It is not music that I created in order to bring pain to anyone. My intentions for writing it… Well. I think I just made it.”
Jun Hyuk could not get himself to say that he had written the specific melody about his painful childhood.
“I’ll tell you one thing, though I don’t know if it’ll be helpful in performing. You do not get used to pain. Even if you feel the same pain repeatedly, the power of that pain remains the same. It hurts. But there is something good in its repetition.”
Everyone listened to Jun Hyuk’s words about his story rather than the music.
“That you know when it ends. That becomes the strength to withstand the pain.”
“Maestro. We have never thought that we’d be able to play this song just by enduring the pain. Isn’t there no point in playing it when we can’t express it?”
Matthew Price is a performer before he is the concertmaster. The success of the performance and the record are important, but he is more focused on the desire to express music.
“Yes, that’s right. But don’t you think we need to do at least that much? I ran a bit in the Commons yesterday. I didn’t run to run well. It was in accordance with Maestro Kazel’s warning that I need to have the stamina to back up my conducting.”
Jun Hyuk hit his thighs with both of his hands and laughed.
“Enduring is also a basic fitness to playing Inferno perfectly.”
However, the members did not stop looking at him in distrust.
“If it had been possible to play the song automatically by building the basic fitness, we would not have suffered so much.”
One of the members yelled and with that sound, everyone started buzzing.
Jun Hyuk put his hand up, calmed the members down, and continued his explanation.
“You’re right. There’s no way that it’ll be enough. As I told you, the basic fitness is just the first step.”
“Then what’s the second step?”
Concertmaster Matthew Price did not pay attention to the members’ buzzing, and looked only at Jun Hyuk.
“The second step is pretty easy. But as you said concertmaster, there is still the problem of expression.”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to tell us in detail?”
“Yes. You’ll play mechanically. Playing the notes exactly as they’re on the score like a machine – that’s the second step.”
“Well well. We always play exactly.”
Matthew Price seemed a bit disappointed upon hearing that the second step he had been anticipating was something that went without saying. They are the Boston Philharmonic, a famous orchestra in the U.S. They are confident that they play all songs with more exactness than machines do.
But Jun Hyuk shook his head and spoke clearly,
“No. What do you mean the Boston Symphony plays like machines? That’s nonsense. You are playing like people. With abundant emotions.”
“It means we follow the movement of the baton exactly in order to bring out that emotion.”
Matthew Price who had seemed patient, frowned. They had not gathered here to hear about meaningless basics. Isn’t exact conducting the basic of basics?
“Whew – How do I explain this…..”
Jun Hyuk had an uncomfortable expression on his face. He needs to show them the precise difference between an ‘exact performance’ and a ‘mechanical performance’ with his body.
From the seats below the stage, Patrick Quinn and Chairman Mark Boff watched their conversation with interest.
“Maestro. Do you understand what that young conductor is saying?”
“Yes. He said that the second step is easy, but it is actually the more difficult method.”
“It’s more difficult?”
“Yes. It’s not easy for people to play a song while taking out emotions completely. And isn’t it music? Music makes emotions fluctuate.”
Patrick burst out in laughter while looking at Mark Boff who was still lost in puzzlement.