Volume 6 / Chapter 213
There is still 1 month left until the performance, but Jun Hyuk gave up trying to roam the streets freely. The New York Philharmonic and President Stern have covered New York City with placards and posters.
He had been able to go around the city pretty freely because his face has not been known until now, but people recognized him and gathered around him even if he tried to go to the park for a run.
As the official sponsor of the New York Philharmonic, Starbucks put the poster up in every location. The employees stared at him whenever he went to order a coffee.
Due to this, Tara appointed an employee to take care of such errands on his behalf.
“Jun, smile for the people if they gather to you. If they ask for signatures, you just have to give out a few. You have to get used to it.”
“It isn’t easy. When people stick papers out at me, the first thought I have is which to take first.”
Tara laughed jokingly while watching Jun Hyuk being uncomfortable.
“Really? Then, we’ll have to train to make you get used to it. Shall we head out?”
“You have your first rehearsal today. We have to go to Lincoln Center. 30 minutes by foot?”
“What? You want to walk there?”
Tara paid no mind to Jun Hyuk being surprised and got her bag.
“Think of it as a walk. If your fans recognize you, smile for them and give them your signature.”
Tara intended to make Jun Hyuk’s image so that he walks through New York streets to and from rehearsal for the next month. She made the decision so that he could become a walking billboard while getting used to dealing with fans.
When they arrived at Lincoln Center for the first rehearsal, Tara gave a towel to a sweaty Jun Hyuk.
“You did well. Just keep on like you did today.”
He had looked a bit awkward trying not to frown under the hot sun and smile at his fans, but he will get used to it with time.
While he cooled off, the chorus conductor came to him.
“Maestro, it’s an honor to meet you.”
“Hello. It’s an honor for me to get to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera.”
“About the rehearsal schedule. Is there anything special you’re thinking about for Beethoven’s choral symphony?”
“Yes. We’re currently practicing your choral concerto, but it’s later than we had expected. Maestro Carras’ orders are very particular so…..”
The chorus conductor glanced at Jun Hyuk with an uncomfortable expression.
“Oh, that issue. I’m alright. My conducting isn’t an interpretation that’ll completely overturn Beethoven’s symphony. I think it’d be fine to start rehearsing a week before the performance. I already saw the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance of the choral symphony many times by video.”
The chorus conductor’s face brightened because this included a compliment.
“Oh. Then, I will relax as well.”
“And there will be times when we practice together because I’m on the piano. If there’s anything you need, please tell me right away.”
The chorus conductor realized then, that the members of his choir have plenty of time. Isn’t Jun Hyuk the composer of choral concerto as well as the pianist? He started spilling cold sweat thinking that both maestros would be watching their rehearsals.
Jun Hyuk let out a long sigh in front of the door to the room where the New York Philharmonic was waiting to rehearse, and opened the door. When he entered the room, the members welcomed him with passionate applause.
A middle-aged man with greying hair approached Jun Hyuk with a bouquet of flowers.
“Maestro. This is bandmaster Samuel Gilberto.”
The philharmonic employee who had escorted Jun Hyuk gave him an introduction. He took the bouquet and put his hand out to the bandmaster.
“It’s an honor, Bandmaster.”
“Oh no, it’s my honor, Maestro. I never imagined that I would be shaking hands with the living Beethoven.”
The bandmaster’s smiling face showed that he was not being sarcastic. Jun Hyuk looked uncomfortable because he did not understand the bandmaster’s true intention, and the bandmaster spoke,
“No matter what anyone says, your choral concerto does not fall behind Beethoven’s work in the slightest bit. It is a blessing for this age.”
When the bandmaster was done speaking, the members applauded again. They have already rehearsed with Jun Hyuk’s song several times and have come to understand the song’s value for themselves.
Jun Hyuk put the bouquet down, bowed to the members for their praise, and went up on the podium.
“Shall we start rehearsal and speak personally later? I’ll tell you about the choral symphony that I’m thinking about first.”
The members geared their attention to Jun Hyuk. How had this young conductor interpreted Beethoven, and how would he try to express that interpretation?
“There’s a common saying in Korea, I guess it could be called an idiom… It can be translated as ‘returning to my hometown in silk clothes’.”
The members started thinking to try and understand the meaning behind the saying.
“Silk clothing in this means societal and material success. It means that the person goes to a big city like New York to find success before going back to their hometown. The person is, of course, not going back home to settle. It’s to show off the success.”
Everyone nodded. They realized that the saying expresses the human desire to show off.
“It’s immature, right? This is how I think of Beethoven’s choral symphony.”
“You’re not saying that choral symphony is immature?”
“Of course not. I’m saying that it’s immature to go back home in silk clothes just to show off to the people from childhood who knew you as unfortunate and poor.”
The members know Beethoven’s life well. And they imagined Beethoven in silk clothing.
“He’ll be arrogant to the people of his hometown, won’t he? And the wish that these people will envy, praise, and suck up to him. I saw that hope in Beethoven’s choral symphony.”
“Whew. It’s a different kind of interpretation that I’m hearing for the first time.”
The bandmaster spoke, and the oboist pulled a bill out from his pocket, handing it over to a flutist. It is obvious what kind of bet they made.
Jun Hyuk spoke as he picked up the baton.
“Let’s hear how you express this silk clothing. Shall we start with molto vivace (very fast and lively) in the 2nd part?”
Everyone picked up their instruments when Jun Hyuk held the baton high.
Furtwangler, who used to lead the Berlin Philharmonic, performed the 2nd part in 12 minutes and Karajan did 9 minutes.
The fastest that choral symphony has been performed is 59 minutes by John Elliott, pioneer of Baroque. But, the 2nd part took 12 minutes.
The 2nd part’s tempo is completely different according to the conductor. The members who know the choral symphony’s wild feeling must have thought that Jun Hyuk would conduct in an incredibly fast speed, and they looked tense. However, he continued conducting so plainly that it could be considered average.
When they were done performing the 2nd part. Jun Hyuk put the baton down.
“Very good. Let’s end it here for today. Until next time, I want you all to think about Beethoven’s wish to go back to his hometown to show off his success. Also, think about how you will express that.”
Jun Hyuk bowed and came down from the podium. Someone stopped Jun Hyuk as he was trying to leave.
“Are the rumors true?”
The person speaking is the oboist who made the bet.
“What rumors are you talking about? There are too many rumors surrounding me.”
“That you remember everything you hear once… That no matter how vast the instrument organization is, you remember everything as though it is recorded.”
“Yes, that is true.”
“Then, you’ll remember all of choral symphony.”
“Yes. The score and 21 CDs I listened to.”
The oboist hesitated for a moment before speaking up carefully,
“Then, why aren’t you saying anything?”
“Ha ha. Are you talking about the prank?”
Everyone including the oboist looked surprised when Jun Hyuk laughed. They had no idea what prank he was talking about.
“I didn’t say anything because I know that it’s a prank. If the 4 people hadn’t been playing a prank, the New York Philharmonic’s fame would be fake… And I would have had to ask Maestro Carras to switch those 4 people out.”
“Oy, we could have been in trouble. We could have gotten fired.”
The young oboist smiled and scratched his head. When there is a conductor who is not old and famous, the performers – the younger ones in particular – like to show their curiosity with pranks like this.
“It’s alright because I didn’t think it was a mistake. If the part that you had gotten wrong was your true ability, the rest of the performance would not have come out. On top of that, it would not have been easy to make a mistake when your fingers remember it.”
Jun Hyuk disappeared with a smile, and the bandmaster Samuel Gilberto glared at the 4 performers.