Volume 6 / Chapter 215
“Why did you change it? The first performance was much better. It was touching.”
“Can you win the conductor no matter how stubborn you remain? And I liked both of them.”
“Your piano’s changed a lot.”
“You only heard how it was different, right? Look at the whole thing.”
Jun Hyuk knew what Yoon Kwang Hun was talking about. He would not have paid attention to the orchestra because of his changed piano.
“I heard the whole thing many times before you joined. Anyway, tomorrow’s the rehearsal for choral symphony? Can I go?”
“See it during the performance. It won’t be as good if you see it in advance during rehearsals.”
Jun Hyuk was in a cold sweat just thinking about having Yoon Kwang Hun’s eyes on the back of his head in rehearsals.
“Oy. Fine. Do well so I’m not disappointed. I like the 2nd part of choral symphony the most.”
Yoon Kwang Hun wanted to see Jun Hyuk scolding the New York Philharmonic, but he ended up just imagining it.
“No. A bit more… it could be hard to differentiate between elegance and arrogance. So you have to go deeper into it.”
The rehearsal for choral symphony was stagnant because they could not get over the last river. He had adjusted the performances of each orchestra member, but there was something of the subtlest difference that was bothering Jun Hyuk.
The members were equally frustrated. They had fully understood and grasped what it was that Jun Hyuk was looking for. There were times when they made mistakes on stage, but they were repeatedly giving perfect performances even though it is just a rehearsal.
The chorus has not joined yet, but they had performed so well in rehearsals with the vocal soloists that they could say that it was perfect. Though it was not satisfying to the conductor.
Jun Hyuk is not greedy. He realized something while recording with Laura Goldberg. Laura is someone who will become the greatest prima donna of this century, but she could not bring out the sound that he wanted. The New York Philharmonic is the best symphony orchestra, but he needs to admit that there is a limit.
If he does not admit that there is a limit, it just becomes difficult for everyone. Jun Hyuk is learning to compromise with other musicians.
Danny almost clucked his tongue. Maestro Carras does not seem to be a Mediterranean person from Greece who enjoys a relaxed life.
It is more fitting to think of him as a passive Italian.
“Jun, he’s worse than you. This is the first time I’ve seen such a sharp orchestra. Your conducting at the Queen Elisabeth Competition was like it would swallow the audience whole, but what we’re doing now is going to reduce them to ashes.”
“I was surprised too. That old man is savage. There was a monster living inside of him. What do you think? Is it feasible?”
“It’s actually a bit dangerous. I have to do my own performance, but I feel like I’m chasing the orchestra. We can’t collapse like this…..”
This is how aggressive Maestro Carras’ conducting is. They have not spoken about their performing together since they exchanged opinions on Jun Hyuk’s first piano performance. He silently leads the orchestra with slight mismatches between the piano, violin, and orchestra that seem to be done on purpose.
Danny thought that it is a huge relief that he started practicing a month earlier. Furthermore, he is realizing that he is able to follow along with Maestro Carras’ conducting because he is living in Jun Hyuk’s apartment and being coached by the composer while practicing.
“You’ll get used to it during rehearsals. And when you’re done and go back to the apartment, practice again. Then, you won’t be shaky.”
“Whose advice is this?”
“Conductor? Composer? Or performer? Who is it?”
Danny’s joking question made Jun Hyuk cluck his tongue.
“Are you stupid? This is the most basic thing.”
Jun Hyuk went into rehearsals everyday – one day as a conductor, one has as a pianist – and time went by quickly as he spent his time busily.
When there was only a week left until the performance, Jun Hyuk’s walking to and from work became such a hot topic that it even made news. Nothing strayed from Tara’s expectations.
People waited for Jun Hyuk in front of his apartment building every morning and walked with him to Lincoln Center. There were more and more people who came with concert posters or Jun Hyuk’s album to ask for signatures.
The interesting part was that the people who walked with him everyday even took care of his security.
“Hey there! You got a signature yesterday, too. Think of other people.”
“Hey! What outlet are you a reporter for? Why are you blocking the street? There’s only a week left until the concert. Are you going to take responsibility for it if he’s late to rehearsals?”
People yelling like this enclosed Jun Hyuk to walk with him to Lincoln Center. Jun Hyuk became used to the faces he kept seeing, and expressed his familiarity. And he started getting used to the growing crowds. He realized that fans are not cumbersome, but people who love music or are anticipating his music.
With the concert date near, there were no empty rooms in New York’s hotels. Beethoven’s name was the best marketing strategy and keyword.
It overlapped with summer vacation, so other maestros arrived in New York and most students of New York music schools did not go back home for break.
The New York Philharmonic’s concert had become the highlight of this year’s Midsummer Night Festival.
The amount of equipment for recording and live broadcasting increased in the concert hall, and they had reached the end of rehearsals.
When there was not much time left until the concert, Yoon Kwang Hun stopped going to watch rehearsals. He knows well that everyone has become sensitive and having someone watch rehearsals would just be a bother.
While Yoon Kwang Hun was drinking coffee alone in an apartment without Jun Hyuk and Danny, the front door opened with someone entering as though she lived there.
A black haired woman in jeans and a short sleeve t-shirt was so surprised that her jaw dropped.
“Are you Amelia?”
A beauty with black hair, sharp nose, and big eyes. Yoon Kwang Hun realized that it is the face he saw in pictures from Jun Hyuk and the internet.
“Oh! Mr. Yoon?”
Amelia had put her big suitcase down in the living room and been surprised to find Yoon Kwang Hun, but remembered talking to Jun Hyuk over the phone. He had told her that Danny would be performing with him and that Yoon Kwang Hun was staying at the apartment until the concert was over.
Amelia ran to Yoon Kwang Hun without hesitation, embracing him as though seeing an old friend.
“I really wanted to meet you, Mr. Yoon.”
“Yes. I wanted to meet you as well, Amelia. I see you’ve come because of Jun Hyuk’s concert.”
Yoon Kwang Hun pulled Amelia’s arms from around his neck, and laughed awkwardly. An old man from Korea is not used to such friendliness.
“Yes. I took off time for about 2 weeks. Of course, I need to see the performance. It’s Jun and the New York Philharmonic.”
Yoon Kwang Hun sat Amelia on the living room sofa and made coffee in the kitchen.
“I see you’re really busy even in the off season.”
“There’s nothing to do about it. It’s because of my contract with a sponsor. During season, it’s Asia, Europe, and North America. Off-season, it’s touring South America including my home country Argentina. Fortunately, my contract with the sponsor is over next year.”
Amelia looked bittersweet that her contract would be over.
“Then, you’ll sign on with a new sponsor?”
Yoon Kwang Hun gave her the coffee cup and she sipped on it.
“Yes. I’ve had a few offers from sponsors in Europe. I’ve released a few albums and the reactions to my performances are still good… I’m going to make it a condition with the new sponsor that they can’t get involved with my touring schedule, though the money I receive will probably decrease drastically.”
“Is it because of Jun?”
“Yes. Even now, we’re seeing each other face-to-face for the first time in a year. I would like to spend some more time with him.”
Though they had been apart for a long time, Amelia had made great efforts to maintain her affection for Jun. Yoon Kwang Hun heard from Jun Hyuk that Amelia’s sponsor is one of the top companies in Argentina. The sponsorship would have been immense, but she is giving that up.
Yoon Kwang Hun could get a glimpse at how Amelia feels for Jun Hyuk.
But what about Jun Hyuk?
He did not seem to be making much of an effort and he did not show yearning for Amelia. He lives with satisfaction as long as he has music in front of him.
Yoon Kwang Hun’s face was not bright, and Amelia did not miss this.
“Oh. Did something happen to Jun?”
Amelia’s face immediately became dark. Jun Hyuk’s erratic phone calls had been bugging her. Amelia looked at Yoon Kwang Hun and asked cautiously.
“Something happen to Jun…? Oh ha ha. Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing like that. And Jun doesn’t have the personality to chase girls.”
“Phew. I thought… I thought maybe.”
When Yoon Kwang Hun saw Amelia brighten up again, he realized that even though she is a star pianist who stands under a spotlight on a stage in front of countless people, she is still just a young girl.
They talked for a while over coffee. Amelia told him all about how she and Jun Hyuk met because of a harmonica and Bach’s cantata, to the performance at Clayton and their travels every weekend.
“Why did you make such a controversial statement at the Tchaikovsky Competition? You didn’t have to do it.”
“Because it’s the truth. My piano was upgraded all because of Jun.”
Yoon Kwang Hun saw that Amelia’s eyes sparkled every time she spoke about Jun Hyuk, and could feel how strong her affection is for him.
There is something that he had been resolved that he would not tell Amelia even if he were to meet her one day. But seeing her affection for himself, his resolution came crashing down. He thought that this must be how a parent feels.
“Old people like me need to use few words. Especially when talking to young people. It’s because we start to give sermons instead of holding a conversation. That’s how people become old.”
“I’m the type who likes to listen to sermons from old people. It’s okay. You can say it.”
“A young genius is cool and romantic because he shows you things that other people can’t even imagine.”
“You’re talking about Jun, right?”
“Yes. He’s cool. I too fell for him when he was 15 and memorized all of Marlowe’s symphony after hearing it once.”
Amelia remembers the moment she fell for Jun Hyuk as well. The shock and bliss she felt when a skinny Asian boy changed her piano at once. It was the moment when it was just the two of them playing the piano in a practice room.
“There is a word omitted before most geniuses. It’s ‘young’. But Jun is just a person even if he is getting older.”
“Yes. No one can avoid it, even geniuses.”
Up to here, Amelia had been expecting the obvious statement to keep their unchanging affection.
“What do you think a middle-aged genius will be like?”
“Excuse me? A middle-aged genius?”
“Have you ever imagined it? A genius who is 40 or 50 years old?”
Amelia had never thought about it, but realized that Jun Hyuk’s genius would not change, and only his body would age.
“I see. I’ve never thought about a 40 year old genius.”
“A genius needs to die young to become a legend because it’s tragic but romantic. No one thinks that a middle-aged genius is romantic. No. They don’t call that person a genius.”
“Then what do they call him?”
“A madman. Or a monster.”
“Excuse me? A madman?”
Amelia looked at him with surprise. He is like a father to Jun Hyuk, but she knew that they are not blood-related. But he and Jun Hyuk are the same in how they surprise people.
“He’s no longer cool or romantic. And since he was a genius since he was young, he will have succeeded beyond wanting more by the time he is middle-aged. That includes wealth, fame, respect, and achievements. He won’t need to have a sense of what others are thinking and feeling… Everyone will look up to him and be envious.”
Yoon Kwang Hun stopped talking and hesitated again. He now needs to say what he really wants to. He does not know how Amelia will take it…
“His nature as a monster that will come out from then on. He’ll try to create music that most people could not even imagine. Why? Because he has everything! All that’s left is what he alone knows, and he’ll jump through hoops to make that music a reality. It’ll be like the old kings of the past who tried to live forever.”
Amelia listened to Yoon Kwang Hun silently. She does not know what he is trying to say yet.
“Even though that could never happen. It would only be possible if Jun Hyuk had someone who is like a copy of him. Jun Hyuk will probably need 200 clones of himself. He’ll make music beyond what Inferno was and those clones will be necessary to play that music with an orchestra.”
“You don’t think?”
Amelia thought that Yoon Kwang Hun’s worries were severe, but she could understand. Don’t parents always worry about nothing?
“Hm… Do you want to take a look at this?”
Yoon Kwang Hun took Amelia to the studio inside the house. He turned on Laura Goldberg’s CD and gave Amelia the scores for the 5 songs.
“First, listen to this. You’ll be able to understand what I’m saying after listening to this.”
Yoon Kwang Hun quietly closed the door and went into the living room alone. He had felt from a long time ago that Jun Hyuk is never satisfied.
The ecstatic expression he has after completing a song starts to change little by little from the moment the score is put in someone else’s hands. And he is in a hurry to hide his disappointment when the end result comes out. Everyone thought of and accepted that as another aspect of Jun Hyuk’s genius.
The first time Jun Hyuk revealed his true thoughts is regarding Laura’s aria, that it is 70%.
If such a great result is 70%, what is the percentage he has been satisfied with until now? It is nerve wrecking just to think about.
Yoon Kwang Hun could be sure after Laura’s recording. Jun Hyuk is living without being able to be satisfied with the music in his life.
After 30 minutes, Amelia opened the door and came out with a flushed face.
“Mr. Yoon. This… Is this Jun’s work? With Laura Goldberg singing?”
“Yes. How was it?”
“Laura was this amazing?”
“Jun wrote it when he had time during the Queen Elisabeth Competition, and the recording was done in a month. Of course, Jun directed it. It’s great, right?”
Amelia’s expression was one of astonishment.
“Jun’s works are always beyond expectations, so there’s nothing left to say about that. But Laura’s aria is really… I now realize why Jun was raving about her. It was a perfect bel canto aria.”
“And it’s without an accompaniment.”
“Exactly. It was hard to believe that it was without an accompaniment.”
Amelia had still not recovered from the shock. Yoon Kwang Hun needed to say something more surprising to Amelia.
“But Jun said that Laura’s singing only met 70% of his standards.”
Amelia seemed more surprised about the 70% than she had been with Laura’s singing.
“Now can you understand what I’m saying? Jun is the type of person who says that this kind of singing is only 70%. He’ll try to fit in with others now, but those complaints are going to stack up and explode one day. That’ll be when he has gained everything but music.”
Amelia was speechless for a while. She finally understood why Yoon Kwang Hun was saying that Jun Hyuk might become a monster.
She spoke cautiously to Yoon Kwang Hun,
“Can you tell me why you’re telling me this?”
“I won’t tell you to prevent him from becoming a madman, since it might be impossible. But if you love Jun and you are going to continue loving him, I’m asking you to keep loving a Jun who might become a monster. I said that I’m 40 years old, but that time might come faster.”
Amelia did not say anything for a while, got up from the sofa, and placed a light kiss on Yoon Kwang Hun’s forehead.
“Now I know why Jun is so wise.”
She sat back down and spoke slowly,
“I don’t know how wacky Jun will become, but I won’t forget what you said today. And I can’t promise that I’ll root for and love him while he’s being called a monster, but I promise that I’ll make the effort to keep loving him.”
“That is plenty. Anything beyond that is greedy.”
Yoon Kwang Hun looked at Amelia’s beautiful face and could not stop thinking that it would be better if Jun Hyuk loved her a little more.