Volume 5 / Chapter 184
At the end of August, there was also a person who came back to New York for the regular season after completing a world tour. It was none other than New York Philharmonic’s standing conductor, Dimitris Carras. The first item on his schedule upon arriving in New York was to visit Jun Hyuk’s apartment with Isaac Stern.
Dimitris Carras was shocked when he saw Jun Hyuk open the front door and welcome them. He had not imagined that this would be the house of the composer of Inferno.
“My friends sent me pictures they took with you and said that it’s a face that I must remember. I didn’t know what they were talking about at first, but you don’t know how surprised I was when I was told you’re the composer of Inferno. I was expecting you to be a white-haired old man. Ha ha.”
After laughing refreshingly, Carras pat President Stern on the back.
“Isaac. You signed on yet another amazing treasure. I guess I won’t receive a good treatment from Stern Corporation from now on. You’ll have 2 young geniuses at the head.”
When Dimitris Carras debuted as a conductor, the first person to hand him a contract was a 35-year-old Isaac Stern. He did it with the promise to make him the standing conductor of one of the top 3 philharmonics in the world.
And 20 years later, Isaac Stern kept that promise. 5 years have already passed since he became the standing conductor and art director of the New York Philharmonic at the age of 55. The two men are friends who have confided in each other their whole lives.
“That’s about right. Even if you say that you want to terminate your contract with us now, it won’t matter to me. He he.”
“Good. Then that means I’ll have to think differently too.”
Even while they had been chatting jokingly, Carras kept glancing at the front door.
“Isaac. When is the person who wrote the choral concerto coming? Jun, have you met him already?”
Dimitris Carras looked at the two of them in curiosity and Isaac Stern could not hold back his laughter.
“Who are you waiting for when he’s already living in the apartment? Isn’t he sitting right in front of you? Ha ha.”
Dimitris Carras just blinked for a moment. He is not understanding what Isaac Stern means when he says that the person is already living here. His eyes grew larger when he looked at Jun Hyuk smiling at him.
“Then… Then is it you? Goodness!”
No one could speak until the New York Philharmonic’s standing conductor’s surprise disappeared.
“What do you think? Won’t it become quite big news?”
“I’m not sure. It could become news, but isn’t it a completely different melody and rhythm? The only common factor is the timing of each movement – and there’s going to be a bit of a difference according to the conductor – the vocal appearing in the 4th movement. Isn’t it only this? The song’s subtitle is ‘Choral’ but other people put Beethoven to it and this concerto was put by the composer himself, so they can’t be seen as the same.”
Dimitris Carras spoke as if it is insignificant.
“They’ll try to find fault with the vocal’s lyrics ‘Ode an die Freude’ but it’s just a citation of Friedrich Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’.”
“Aren’t you looking at it too lightly? That’s enough to find an issue in.”
“He he. You’ll win anyway. The judges will realize as well. The more they argue, the more they are proving that this choral concerto is a match for Beethoven’s choral symphony. There’s no reason for it to become a hot topic if it’s just copying because they can just eliminate the submission.”
He means that the more it becomes news and the more disagreements there are, it is the same as their admitting the level of the piece.
“Honestly, next year’s competition committee is lucky.”
“Of course. I’m sure this level of work is going to raise the competition’s position.”
Isaac Stern agreed with him, but Dimitris Carras shook his head.
“That’s not what I mean. Isaac, assuming Jun’s song wins what do you think will happen? You can’t imagine it?”
Isaac Stern and Jun Hyuk just stared at Dimitris Carras. They could not think of anything in particular.
“They can take care of everything in the finals with this one song. Piano, violin, and even vocals. Don’t you think it’ll be really interesting?? It’ll be important who they become placed in groups with as well. For the first time, the finalists will have to make draws to configure their groups. Like with the World Cup. Ha ha.”
“I see. So it’s possible to take care of the competition part with Jun Hyuk’s song alone. I didn’t think about the vocals.”
Isaac Stern hit his forehead. The finals will become very interesting. The competition committee will certainly not overlook this aspect.
“Jun, don’t worry. If your choral concerto doesn’t win, that itself will become the beginning of a hot topic. It won’t match the public opinion and the competition’s authority will be groundless. I’ll be the first to criticize them.”
The maestro of the New York Philharmonic was sure that Jun Hyuk would win. Since a great is this certain, President Stern did not think that he would need to pressure the competition committee.
Dimitris Carras brought up what he was more curious about than the competition.
“Jun. From what I hear, you quit the Inferno performance with the Boston Philharmonic because you said that you didn’t want to use shortcuts?”
“Yes. I thought that and so did the orchestra members.”
Dimitris looked regretful at Jun Hyuk’s answer.
“It would have been better to hold the concert even if you had to use a shortcut. Conducting the Boston Philharmonic would have been a very valuable experience. When you become a candidate for world renowned philharmonics from now on, it’ll be a really important resume. You shouldn’t have been so stubborn.”
Dimitris Carras had gone through a lot before becoming the standing conductor of the New York Philharmonic and knows the process better than anyone else does. Not everyone who takes on the role of operating an orchestra is an expert in music. There are a lot of politics.
Dimitris has absolutely no doubt that Jun Hyuk is the future standing conductor of the New York Philharmonic. The reason why he is mentioning the importance of experience is that he wants Jun Hyuk to be standing on the podium right this moment.
He did not think that there would be more special cases like the Boston Philharmonic from now on.
“Jun, you don’t have any thoughts to conduct Inferno now?”
“No. The album came out well. I think that most of what I want is in there. From now on, what I want to see is how other maestros interpret it differently.”
Once Dimitris realized that Jun Hyuk has no lingering regrets for Inferno, his lips curled into a smile.
“Really? Then I’d like to put it on stage next year. Do you have any good tips?”
Isaac Stern was startled and spoke,
“Hold on, Maestro. Are you preparing now? Do you think it’ll be possible?”
“Of course. Why?”
“I’m sure you’ve heard the album.”
“Of course I heard it. I liked it. It wasn’t that painful or anything.”
Even Jun Hyuk was surprised by his nonchalant tone. He had seen for himself how much the Boston Philharmonic suffered. The conductor, Patrick Quinn, had said that he barely listened through to the 4th movement.
“What is that? Is that for real? This is surprising.”
“What is? When I looked at the score honestly, I didn’t think it’d be possible. But it was completely different when I listened to the album. I understood Jun Hyuk’s interpretation. The subject of Inferno isn’t pain. It’s completely different.”
Dimitris turned his attention to Jun Hyuk.
“Jun, this might be rude but answer honestly. Isn’t Inferno based on your experiences?”
“You’ve experienced severe pain in the past, right? Whether you were abused by some severe violence… and you expressed that with music. Isn’t that so?”
“That’s… that’s right. How did you know?”
Jun Hyuk’s voice trembled. How could he figure out Jun Hyuk’s experiences by listening to his music? It is something he has not told anyone other than Yoon Kwang Hun.
“Do you think someone who hasn’t experienced pain can relay the feeling to this extent to the audience? That kind of expressiveness would go beyond a genius, and it would be inhuman. It would be impossible for even you unless you experienced it.”
Dimitris looked at a surprised Jun Hyuk and spoke carefully.
“And the pain in Inferno was definitely physical, not mental. I also grew up under an abusive father. I could tell because I had experienced it to some extent. It’s something I had been forgetting completely, but the memories came up.”
He is showing the power of time in speaking of painful memories of his youth in such a calm manner.
“Dimitris, why is that important? Just because Jun Hyuk experienced it? No one gets used to violence.”
Isaac Stern lost interest in what method this impressive maestro knows.
“I objectified Inferno as I listened to it. Shall I say I was looking at someone who is experiencing pain? That someone could be me when I was a child, or Jun. It was okay once I changed the perspective.”
“Is that possible?”
It is easily said, but the possibility is another issue. Even if Jun Hyuk had not asked it, Isaac Stern would have.
“Why? You can’t believe it? I think it’s more unbelievable who created a song like Inferno. I’m sure everyone has their own advantages.”
“What exactly does it mean that you objectify it?”
“It means I don’t empathize with it. Hm… like watching a horror movie? It’s uncomfortable to see the characters tortured and killed, but I can bear to watch it because I’m not the one going through it. And if you think about the set as you watch a movie? It’s easier if you think about the cameras, staff, NGs, and laughing actors. I thought I’d be able to maintain that feeling.”
“Then are the conductor and performance just playing the role of delivering?”
“Right. That could be a more accurate explanation. I’m just a messenger to the audience.”
Isaac Stern was watching the two men speak when he brought up the question that would not go away.
“Then what about the members of the New York Philharmonic? Are you saying that they can objectify it like you can?”
“No, not yet. But a few are already capable of playing it perfectly. We’re just trying out different ways right now.”
There are a lot of people in the world with talent. And each of those talents has the color of the person they belong to. Jun Hyuk could understand why Dimitris is famous for his perfect song interpretation.
“What is this? I was going to find out if there are any good tips to performing it, but I’ve only told you my know-how. Ha ha.”
“Maestro, don’t worry. I’ll seal my lips.”
“Then can you promise me one thing?”
“Once you end the competition with this great choral concerto, I’d like to put in on stage for the very first time with the New York Philharmonic. What do you think?”
A proposal he had not been expecting. Jun Hyuk bolted up and grabbed the maestro’s hand.
“It’s an honor. I feel like I should be the one asking for the favor.”
“Listen to the end. There’s one more thing.”
Dimitris smiled playfully and Jun Hyuk’s heart started beating. Is he thinking of leaving the conducting to Jun Hyuk as well?
“Let’s go on stage together. I’ll conduct your choral concerto and you’ll conduct Beethoven’s choral symphony. We’ll perform the two songs together.”
If they play the 2 songs in succession, it will approach 3 hours. If they put in an intermission, it is at least 3 and a half hours. It will become a tremendous event.
Perform Beethoven? And with the best in the world, the New York Philharmonic? Jun Hyuk thought his heart would burst.
Isaac Stern was even more excited than Jun Hyuk was.
“That’s amazing. Leave it to me. I’ll make sure this concert happens. I’ll make New York come alive for you. Ha ha.”
Isaac Stern was already drawing a picture of New York City on that day. Placards and posters that will be all over the city. The meeting of a young genius and a great maestro. And Beethoven.