Volume 6 / Chapter 200
“This kid. Isn’t he too much? What are we supposed to do if he shows a performance like this?”
The maestros who gathered backstage surrounded Jun Hyuk as though to threaten him.
“Exactly. Now, no matter who conducts, won’t it be compared to today’s choral concerto? Will we even be able to put it on stage with this fear? Ha ha.”
The maestros laughed while speaking as though joking, but they were not at ease. There had been a premiere with the composer’s conducting. The countless performances of choral concerto from now on will be continuously compared to that of today.
It is obvious that a performance that is faster and more aggressive than Jun Hyuk’s will be judged as imitating, and they have no choice but to fight it by trying to create a novel interpretation. But would a new interpretation be able to surpass Jun Hyuk’s performance?
How would they be able to surpass the brutality that expresses a death-defying beast… They cannot think of a way immediately.
“This praise is excessive. I was just hoping you would like it.”
“When did you become so modest? Where did the person who was arrogant in front of Beethoven go?”
“Are you still talking about that? It really is a misunderstanding.”
“No. It was a performance and work that was worthy of that. I’m being serious.”
Jun Hyuk’s face was flushed from the maestros’ compliments, when Tara came over. Then Jun Hyuk saw Yoon Kwang Hun, who had cautiously followed closely behind her.
“Oh, sir. I’m sure you saw the performance? What do you think? You’re not going to be poignant and criticize me, are you?”
“Hey! Be quiet. Don’t you need to introduce me to those people first?”
Yoon Kwang Hun looked more excited than Jun Hyuk did, and gestured to the maestros looking at Jun Hyuk and him. He had watched his guests from Korea catch a taxi to the airport before coming back to the theater right away. When Tara escorted him backstage and he discovered over 10 maestros, he thought his heart was going to stop.
His eyes were fixed on the maestros and he already forgot about Jun Hyuk.
“Oh, that’s right… Sir. Don’t do things like taking pictures with them…”
“Am I a child? Hurry!”
Jun Hyuk went to the maestros and spoke to them cautiously.
“This is my father… He’s a huge fan of all of you.”
“Oh, really? You’re saying this is the great man who made a monster like you?”
Yoon Kwang Hun could not wait any longer and pushed past Jun Hyuk.
“This is an honor, Maestro. My name is Yoon.”
Yoon Kwang Hun shook the hands of each person, and rapidly complimented each of them with respect and affection.
“Maestro, your Mendelssohn during the 2003 Munich concert was really the best.”
“Bruckner’s No. 8 Symphony was so perfect that it was comparable to Celibadache. I don’t know how many times I cried because I was so overwhelmed.”
Yoon Kwang Hun does not have Jun Hyuk’s memory. But he did not leave out any praise as he shook the hands of each maestro. How many times had he listened to the albums for him to be able to remember all of that?
Jun Hyuk stared blankly at Yoon Kwang Hun. When Jun Hyuk could not wait any longer because of the next item of their schedule and pulled Yoon Kwang Hun’s arm, Yoon Kwang Hun had already taken dozens of pictures with the maestros.
“Sir, stop and go back to the hotel. I’ll finish up my schedule today and go to the hotel. Your friends are waiting for you.”
“Huh? Who? Oh, friends? They all went back. I watched them go back to the airport.”
“What? They went back already?”
“Didn’t I tell you? Those friends aren’t people who love classical music. Anyway, you have to call me if you get dinner or drinks with these people. Got it?”
Jun Hyuk had to urge Yoon Kwang Hun out because even after he warned Jun Hyuk, he kept looking back as though he wanted to stay. When the maestros who told him to go to the after party once the competition is over left, Jun Hyuk went to be interviewed.
The reporters finished up interviewing the performers for today’s finals and were just waiting for Jun Hyuk to show up.
When he entered the room, the cameras flashed.
“Are you satisfied with today’s performance?”
As soon as Jun Hyuk sat down, questions came flooding in.
“Yes. It was a pleasant performance because I was able to work with such great people.”
“The 1st and 2nd performances were clearly different. Was that difference because of the soloists?”
“I guess that is half right. I wanted to bring out the soloists’ individuality, and I also wanted to try out different types of performances.”
“I do not understand. Unless you were thinking of 2 different versions while composing the song, isn’t it impossible to show such stark differences? We can tell just with the length of time for the performances. The 1st was 67 minutes. You reduced the 2nd to 59 minutes. There was the difference of a whopping 8 minutes. Couldn’t this only be seen as a difference in interpretation?”
Interpreting means that the conductor is building the performer and piece. It is inevitable that a work changes according to the conductor, but there has never been a case where one conductor presented 2 interpretations, much less on the same day.
“Of course it is. The feeling I had when I was writing the song was more like that of the 2nd performance, but a lot of time has passed. It was enough time for a new interpretation to emerge.”
“Then does that mean that you will be continuing to bring out different interpretations?”
“I would like to if I can. Isn’t that the appeal of music – no – art? Hundreds of interpretations can come from one piece of art.”
The reporters became restless. This is a shocking statement. He will be conducting the same song in various versions? Is this possible unless he is arranging it? Is this possible because he wrote it?
While the reporters were thinking of these questions, one quick reporter threw out a question.
“Then when you conduct other composer’s songs from now on, do you intend to bring out the ‘appeal of art’?”
“If it is in the range of possibility, of course.”
He had used the phrase he used with Beethoven again. Range of possibility. Flashes burst. Though this time, the reporters’ reactions were different from then. They were full of the thought that it could be a possibility, and that it is not just nonsense.
“We cannot leave this question out. You compared with Beethoven – do you still think the same thing?”
“Well, I can’t really pull out now… I’ll leave that judgement to the criticism that will come out tomorrow.”
Tara was watching next to him, and took the microphone.
“As we are out of time, we will take the last question. And please refrain from questions regarding Beethoven. I believe that he has answered questions on this enough.”
“What are your future plans? Are you going to prepare a new piece?”
Tara answered the last question on his behalf again.
“He is currently preparing for a performance with the New York Philharmonic. We will let you know as soon as we have a definitive schedule. And Maestro Jun is working on a new piece without taking a break. Then we will be wrapping up the interview.”
Jun Hyuk came out of the room and looked relieved.
“I can go home now, right?”
“Of course. The reporters will be busy writing their articles for tomorrow too. The dorm you were staying in here was already taken care of.”
“Phew – What a relief. Oh right. Before I go home, I have to go to the hotel…”
“No. If you’re talking about Mr. Yoon, he was taken to the house. He’ll be waiting there.”
“Okay. Thanks, Tara.”
Tara saw Jun Hyuk smile and said what she needs to even though she had not planned on doing so.
“What do you think about meeting Maestro Boulez for a moment before you go?”
Jun Hyuk did not see, but Tara saw Pierre Boulez praising Jun Hyuk to the reporters.
“The ability to see a great conduct in a competition gauging rookies is itself a blessing. Though Jun was a participant in the composing portion, he is no longer a rookie if looking only at his conducting. It is not surprising even if he becomes the principal conductor of an internationally leading symphony orchestra.”
She had heard such high praises, and could not ignore it.
“He praised you a lot while interviewing with reporters about today’s performance. I think it’s right to talk to him.”
Jun Hyuk nodded and started walking. When he opened the door to Pierre Boulez’s office and walked in, the 4 soloists for tomorrow’s performance were drinking tea and chatting with the Maestro.
“Oh, Jun. Are you done with everything for today?”
“Yes, Maestro. I finished up the interviews as well.”
Pierre Boulez went to Jun Hyuk, held both of his hands, and sat him down next to him.
“I’m trying to erase the aftertaste of your performance today. Though it isn’t easy because it’s so strong. Ha ha.”
“If that’s a compliment, it’s too much. It’s the same even if it’s a fuss.”
“No, I’m being serious. You went through such a large song that fast, but to think you would finish it within an hour! It was too intense.”
Pierre Boulez’s worries were not his making a fuss. If not even he can get rid of that aftertaste, how will these 4 finalists who have to perform tomorrow feel?
He could tell the shock that the 4 people must have felt in their eyes and fingertips while watching Jun Hyuk’s performance. Their pupils shook throughout the performance, and their fingers did not stop trembling.
It is the most dangerous moment in a competition. They need to maintain the unique color they have created until now, but they lose that the moment they try to make a stronger impression than what they saw before.
“Jun, do you have anything to say to them? As the composer, not a conductor. I’m saying this because as you can see, they look like they’ve lost confidence.”
Jun Hyuk looked at the 4 people and scratched his head. Their performance cannot change just from hearing a few words. Pierre Boulez was asking him to say something that would help them exert their skill at the least.
“I’m sure you already know that the only thing you have to lean on in tomorrow’s performance is Maestro Boulez.”
It is not something that the 4 performers do not know. They just have not come out of the shock of the afternoon performance.
“Hm. You’ve all fallen into the trap of Beethoven’s name – no – the word.”
Jun Hyuk saw the same thing in each of their faces.
“You can’t be caught captive by the one image hidden in his music and what the critics are saying. It is the image of innovation.”
Beethoven is the first free musician. In the times before him, musicians created music on the request of people like the wealthy, royals in power, and archbishops ruling diocese.
In today’s terms, it was a time when music was contracted for delivery. A lot of money was required to perform symphonies and operas, so there was no attempt at composing them unless they were contracted. If they created and performed with their own money and failed, it would only be a matter of time before they lost everything. No one made such a venture.
Due to this, musicians were dressed as servants. The tights that came up to their knees were a symbol of this. When Mozart was in working under the archbishop in Salzburg, he even ran away to Vienna because he was lower in rank than the chef at the table.
Beethoven on the other hand, rejected this kind of commissioning. He was freed when he said the famous words,
“I write (the songs), they pay.”
Beethoven rejected the knee high tights, and wore pants. He did not take requests from people higher up, and made the music he wanted to. He rented salons and took money from the audience to reveal his new songs. He had used today’s concert culture for the first time.
And he succeeded. He earned enough to lead an affluent life.
“The song that you will be performing tomorrow has nothing to do with Beethoven. It is just another concerto. There are hundreds of interpretations to this song. It doesn’t need to be aggressive.”
The 4 performers felt Jun Hyuk’s words were empty. It is because Jun Hyuk had presented a more extreme conducting than Beethoven when he was telling him to erase Beethoven from their minds.
“I thought of this song’s interpretation this way.”
It was uncertain whether he was saying this to the performers or if he was looking for Pierre Boulez to agree with him. Jun Hyuk was looking out into the air.
“007’s James Bond was released in various versions. There are more being made now. James Bond’s first actor Sean Connery was sexy and elegant, and was humorous even in dangerous moments. He was always surrounded by beautiful women as well.”
Sean Connery’s James Bond was created to meet men’s standards as the ideal an rather than a spy.
“But what is today’s James Bond, Daniel Craig, like? He runs, rolls, gets hurt… He’s a serious spy who doesn’t even smile much. And most of the Bond girls are tough Amazons. They are completely different characters, but they are both James Bond.”
Pierre Boulez smiled. Jun Hyuk is Daniel Craig and he is Sean Connery.
“You are all James Bond of the 007 series that Maestro Boulez is making. If your individuality is combined with his directing, a new James Bond will be born. And I’m anticipating being able to see a James Bond with personality tomorrow.”
Pierre Boulez sincerely prayed that the 4 finalists, who still looked confused, would completely accept what Jun Hyuk said and create a new James Bond tomorrow.