Volume 6 / Chapter 220
The planning team and New York Philharmonic board were in an intense meeting early in the morning. No one can step foot in Damrosch Park because it is already packed with people.
“Are you sure everyone is here because of today’s concert? There could be people taking walks in the park.”
“From what we hear, they’re all there for the concert. There’s a barrage of questions regarding tickets, too.”
Reviews on the concert that came pouring out last night made people gather to the park. Ironically, it brought in more people who were criticizing the concert than those praising it.
A performance that delved all the way into Beethoven. The criticisms that it completely ignored the sublime aspect of choral symphony had brought people out due to their curiosity.
The New York Philharmonic board laid out their opinions while fighting back the desire to laugh. They cannot lose such a great opportunity. The more people there are who watch the concert, the higher album sales are bound to be.
“What do you think about just opening it up? People who bought tickets can sit in the seats and the rest can enjoy the concert from the grass even though they won’t be able to see the stage very well.”
“Then we’ll have to increase the sound equipment. They’re almost done setting up already…”
It is an open space as it is. Opening the concert so that everyone can hear is the same thing as saying that they should increase the number of speakers that they are using.
“It’s a festival period right now. Though it might be a little tiring, what do you think of preparing it for the citizens of New York?”
“There’s no reason to worry much if it’s just a matter of increasing the number of speakers. The issue is that it’s difficult to prepare it so that the sound is relayed properly. Don’t you think poor sound quality could become a nuisance to the maestro?”
“We will speak to the maestro about that. We’ll have to tell him that the sound quality going outside will be a little low and ask for his understanding.”
If a crowd surges to an outdoor concert, it is difficult to expect great sound. To compare with a theater, it is the difference between the high quality sound of a CD and an MP3 file.
Every June in Austria, the Vienna Philharmonic holds its Midsummer Night Concert on an outdoor stage by the Schloss Schonbrunn Neptune fountain. The crowd that comes to see this easily runs over 100,000 people. The admission is free.
London’s BBC PROMS is the same. The summer festival performances are at the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Music Academy, and Cadogan Hall under a banner for popularization of classical music. The closing performance on PROMS’ last day at Hyde Park in particular, is presented to hundreds of thousands of people.
Because these outdoor concerts happen periodically, the fitting sound systems are planned and prepared in advance. Even still, it is difficult to expect great sound quality anywhere that is not close to the stage. With an unexpected situation like today, they need to give up on perfect sound.
The only person who can decide on giving up on sound is the maestro. There is no conductor who welcomes the fact that his music will be ruined by the sound system.
“Jun, what do you think?”
“Isn’t it better for more people to be able to hear music? We need to give up on sound quality to a certain point since it is an outdoor concert.”
“Your thoughts are exactly the same as mine.”
Maestro Carras and Jun Hyuk’s agreeing opinion put the concert planners at ease. They can give up on sound quality and gear the direction toward doing a service for the citizens of New York.
Once this news was out, more people swarmed to Damrosch Park.
“Jun. Are you going to put some change into today’s performance too?”
“What? That’s impossible. Even changing the tempo is scary. I’m thinking of performing like we did yesterday.”
Jun Hyuk waved his hand as Dimitri Carras laughed softly.
“No. I’m not talking about your conducting but your piano. Can I expect a different piano from that of yesterday?”
“It’s the same for that as well. You can enjoy a new piano with a new pianist. I’ll perform in the same way.”
Maestro Carras’ face darkened because he knew what it meant.
“Then you’re saying you won’t continue working with the New York Philharmonic? I was thinking of performing with you again in the fall repertoire.”
“Aren’t there a lot of pianists who would come in a heartbeat if you call? Even New Yorkers will get tired of it if it’s constantly the same performance.”
“There’s no reason to get tired of it if it’s someone like you with a unique sound. It’s hard to find something as fun as performing with you… This is upsetting.”
“You need to find fun in performing a new song with me.”
“Oh, I see that confidence? You must tell me if you write a new song. You need to premiere it with our New York Philharmonic. Promise?”
Carras thought that they would be able to come across a new work by fall at the latest since Jun Hyuk is always writing new music. His face quickly brightened as he thought of experiencing fresh surprise again.
“Oh right. Isaac told me that you turned the Seattle Symphony down?”
“Yes. I think I’m still lacking.”
“Really? I heard differently. I heard you said it needs to be better than Seattle.”
“Huh? Are you saying that Isaac said that to you?”
“Ha ha. I’m joking.”
Carras laughed at Jun Hyuk’s surprise and then became serious again. He wanted Jun Hyuk to take his next words seriously.
“I’m thinking of recommending you as my successor when I retire from the New York Philharmonic, so don’t turn it down then.”
“Would the New York Philharmonic ever let go of you?”
“I’m not Karajan, so a lifetime contract isn’t possible. It’ll change in 5 years if it’s long-term and 3 if it’s short. They used an old man like me for so long, so they’ll definitely want a young conductor as my successor… I’m pretty sure if it’s you, the board would unanimously agree. The orchestra is in love with you too, so there’s no issue there.”
Rather than being surprised by Dimitri Carras’ words, Jun Hyuk first wondered if President Stern had not pushed for Seattle yesterday because of this.
He said 5 years at most. If he is certain for Carras’ successor, there is no reason to spend 2 years with Seattle. The New York Philharmonic’s status has fallen a bit, but it is still the orchestra representing America. Jun Hyuk’s heart began to beat.
“Thank you for your kind words.”
“It’s not a joke. If you just gain some more experience from now on – actually the question is whether or not you even need that – no one doubts that you’ll become the greatest conductor in the world. It’s not just me. I’m sure all maestros are thinking the same thing.”
His comfortable mindset flowed naturally into his performance. Music of a drowsy weekend afternoon permeated the park through the piano, violin, and orchestra.
Maestro Carras’ baton moved in a relaxed manner. Right now, the New York Philharmonic’s music is not an art that needs to be focused on but background music for the park. It is a performance that shows another role of music.
Jun Hyuk’s performance at 8 did not have less of an audience. The people actually laid back and relaxed as they breathed in the fresh summer air.
Jun Hyuk said that he would conduct in the same way he did yesterday, but he conducted in a slightly slower tempo so as not to break the tranquil atmosphere.
It may be difficult to notice this minute difference in tempo, but he conducted so that the performers fully knew his intention.
The orchestra also performed in a relaxed state, and this comfortable choral symphony spread out into the night sky above Damrosch Park.
“You always show us something new. You changed the vibe completely with such a small change in tempo.”
“I was surprised again. He said that there wouldn’t be a surprise show. That he would give the same performance he did yesterday. But… Ha ha.”
After the concert, everyone related to the production celebrated the end of all of the performances in a Lincoln Center hall reserved for them.
“Oh, that wasn’t planned. Today’s performance was totally the orchestra’s stage. I was just faithful to my role in keeping the tempo. We just delivered the orchestra’s feeling of being encompassed by the park’s easy going atmosphere.”
“Are you saying that you’re already so connected with the orchestra that you don’t even need words? That’s even scarier.”
Realizing the conductor’s intent just by looking at his eyes, and recognizing the orchestra’s state from listening to the first note – it is like the relationship of an old married couple. It is what every conductor wants. That is why there are lifetime conductors.
“That’s not just me. Everyone would have had the same feeling. Everyone really melted into the comfortable atmosphere of the park today.”
The difference between the theater and park is not the sound, but the attitude toward the music. It is the difference between appreciating the music and feeling it like a wind that is momentarily warding off the summer heat.
“Since the concert is over now, what are your plans going forward?”
The New York Philharmonic asked as they have a lot of interest in Jun Hyuk’s happiness.
“Well. I don’t really have any special plans made yet.”
“I know those plans well.”
President Stern appeared out of nowhere, put his arms around Jun Hyuk’s shoulders, and waved to everyone.
“There are a lot of places who want our friend. But he’s going to just rest for at least a month.”
“Is that so? You’ll just be resting for a month?”
Jun Hyuk laughed as well and put his arm around Stern’s shoulders.
“Of course. It’s summer vacation when everyone is taking a break. If you can, go to my villa in Switzerland and rest. And it’d be fine for everyone to go. Mr. Yoon, Amelia, Danny.”
“Mr. Stern. Thank you, but I need to go to Philadelphia tomorrow. I have a concert scheduled.”
Danny had been listening to the maestros quietly when he spoke with a flushed face.
“It was decided in the morning. My agent told me. A solo concert for 2 days. And a concert with the Philadelphia Philharmonic. We’re planning on performing in September.”
“Oh, congratulations. So what about the repertoire?”
“Thank you, Mr. Yoon. It’s Paganini and Brahms.”
He had been able to be relaxed and give a steady performance today because of the concert atmosphere, but also because he received the request from the Philadelphia Philharmonic.
“Then, we should save the young people, shouldn’t we? They’re going to be smothered if they keep hanging out with old people like us.”
President Stern spoke to Jun Hyuk and Danny.
“Jun, Danny. We’ll let you go, so get going. It’s late. Go before Amelia tears me apart. I’ll go to the apartment tomorrow, so let’s go into the details then.”
Jun Hyuk and Danny said their goodbyes to the people at the party and left. They rushed to the apartment to spend some time to themselves. When they left the party, they saw a familiar face waiting for them outside.