Volume 7 / Chapter 223
Sponsored: Chimemerie & Sudarsan L.
Laura’s album was released as a package including the scores for the 5 songs. Reviews like ‘Extreme beauty shown by a human voice’ were just regarding Laura Goldberg’s debut album as a rookie, but the album sold quickly as an unexpected change to classical music.
The first promotional concert for the album was held in Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall has been praised with comments like “The hall itself is an instrument,” and has been the representative temple for music in New York even after the construction of the Lincoln Center. It is a stage that all musicians, including those in pop music, dream of so it is not an exaggeration to say that the greatest musicians in the past 100 years have all stood on stage in Carnegie Hall.
599-seat Jenkins Hall in the basement is suitable for chamber music. Laura’s solo recital will be held here and has been news since before the album’s release. An aria without accompaniment or lyrics.
Tickets sold out early because of people who wanted to see this for themselves.
But, the people who entered the theater 30 minutes before the recital were in a state of confusion. There is a grand piano and classic guitar along with a microphone on top of the stage when it is supposed to be an aria without accompaniment.
When one spotlight turned on on stage and the audience lights went off, the audience’s murmuring faded away. The sound of high heels clicking rang and Laura walked out wearing a blue dress.
Fitting for a small scale concert hall, light clapping welcomed the singer.
Laura stood in front of the microphone stand and started singing right away without any special words of greeting. An ‘ah’ sound rang through Jenkins Hall for 5 minutes. The sound did not stop for even a moment during those 5 minutes, making it suspicious as to whether she was even breathing.
The audience was drunk with the beautiful treble and melody, and those 5 minutes felt short to them. If the song had been longer, it would have been difficult for the audience as well. They were all red in the face because they were following the singer’s breath by holding their own.
When Laura finished one song, she bowed lightly to the audience and left the stage. The spotlight on stage went off but quickly came back on again. The thin ray of light shone on the piano.
The audience had been expecting Laura’s re-entry, but cheered in surprise. Jun Hyuk walked out slowly wearing a suit, bowed to the audience, and sat in front of the piano.
The classic guitar next to the piano got the people more excited. This might be a rare performance where they might get to hear Jun Hyuk play the guitar after he plays the piano.
Jun Hyuk’s right hand started moving and the same melody that Laura had just sang, flowed out. There is a clear difference between the piano and the human voice. Even the feeling of the music was different, and a low exclamation flowed through the audience.
People who enjoy a little more depth wished for Jun Hyuk’s performance to continue not just because of the sound, but also because they could anticipate various emotions according to the way that the piano is played.
Jun Hyuk finished playing the piano and played the same song with the guitar. The distinctive smooth ringing of the classic guitar delivered inspiration of a different color.
Laura and Jun Hyuk did not say a word to each other and went back and forth taking turns to sing and play the piano and guitar. Each time the song changed, Laura’s dress changed and the color of the lights changed.
There was even a song like a bolero, that presented the same melody with the colors of different instruments. But there was no concert or accompaniment on this stage, no variation, and it was only a melody with one color.
When all 5 songs were over, the audience in the concert hall could not shake the aftertaste of this strange experience, and could not stop yelling for an encore while clapping.
Laura came out again for the curtain call and took the microphone. “You were really worked through for just 5 songs, right?” The audience burst out in laughter at Laura’s joke.
“The person who created such a great piece with beauty and fun. Maestro Jun.”
Jun Hyuk walked out on stage to Laura’s introduction. Cheering filled the theater again with Jun Hyuk’s entry.
“I realized today what a fun and delightful occasion it is to play a simple performance in a small scale theater.”
Jun Hyuk sent a light greeting to the audience and the cheering quieted down.
“I played the piano and guitar for this performance. But it is fun to think about what instruments will appear for the recitals over the next 3 days including the 2nd round opening later tonight, and what kind of feeling those instruments will present.”
The audience stirred. All the performance guide said was that it is Laura Goldberg’s solo recital and that there is to be a special performance. But if it means that each recital is going to include solos with different instruments, these recitals have become an event that they cannot miss a single one of.
The audience only had thoughts of getting tickets for the remaining performances. “As it is the 1st performance, we will leave after giving you a special gift.”
Jun Hyuk sat in front of the piano again and Laura stood in front of the microphone again.
The music that flows out of the piano is Jacques Offenbach’s last opera, Barcarolle of ‘Tales of Hoffman’. Offenbach died before he could complete this piece, so it remained unfinished.
It is called a living opera because producers and conductors can perform it with different context and configurations each time because it is unfinished.
The boating song is a duet in act 2, but Laura’s voice and Jun Hyuk’s piano mixed exquisitely and rang throughout the theater. This song in particular became a message in the movie ‘Life is Beautiful’ that showed how hope survives even in despair.
He snuck into the broadcasting room while in Auschwitz to play the song loudly over speakers to let him wife and son know that he is alive.
The 2nd performance that night became news again because New York Philharmonic’s bandmaster and lead violinist, Samuel Gilberto, took Jun Hyuk’s role and played a sad violin melody.
Laura’s 4 days of 8 performances was like a box of chocolates. There was more and more interest because just as it is impossible to know what flavor it is before taking the wrapper off, they could not know who the performer would be.
When news of Laura’s first performance got out through the media, there were requests to hold more recitals and for sales of the record and scores. Laura’s performance was a user’s guide showing people how to develop Jun Hyuk’s 5 songs.
“Jun. You’re not thinking of a solo performance for Monterey Jazz Festival, are you?”
“Of course not. I don’t even have a band.”
“I was asking just in case. The festival committee sent this, and there are 2 things that they want.”
The document that President Stern showed him listed participating in Clarke and Lee L. Carlton’s joint performance and playing the piano as part of European Jazz Big Band’s performance.
“Isaac. Big Band rehearsals will be no joke.”
Jazz Big Band has over 20 people and is not much different from an orchestra. They need to perform with perfect configuration and it is hard to expect improvisation. But the fine performance that Big Band presents is another flavor of jazz.
“I can just do the Stanley Clarke and Lee L. Carlton joint performance, right?”
President Stern grinned when he saw Jun Hyuk smile.
“I see you’re happy to be meeting Stanley Clarke again?”
“That’s good, but I’m really looking forward to standing on stage with Lee L. Carlton, too. It’s rare to find guitarists who can follow through with such clean and well-presented phrases as he can.”
“Great. Then, I’ll tell the festival committee that. And… the performance in Korea.”
“We’re trying to prepare for a live album. What do you think?”
President Stern is asking about the album because he cannot make a determination on Korean musicians. He has heard enough of Seoul Symphony’s performances through albums, but all he knows about the musicians who participated in Jun Hyuk’s 1st album is that one album itself.
Jun Hyuk thought for a moment and then nodded.
“It’ll be okay. Each individual’s abilities are great. There won’t be anything bad to say even if the album comes out. Oh right. I don’t know how those musicians have changed since then… so I’m sure we’ll have to check that.”
Jun Hyuk spoke confidently, but President Stern shook his head.
“Jun. I’m not thinking of the Korean market when I talk about the album, but the global market. We’re even thinking of changing the lyrics to English. That’s why the participating musicians need to be up to standard for the global market.”
If they substitute the musicians and change the lyrics to English, it will become a completely new album. Then the people who participated in the 1st album lose all rights to this performance.
“We can take session men from here if we need to. And for the singers…..”
“Yes. How many were there? Various people sang on the album.”
“I know. I’m thinking of picking the singers separately.”
“What? You’re going to change them?”
It does not mean that he will see what the Korean singers are like now, before making a decision. President Stern did not want the Korean singers in the first place.
“Of course. We need to take people who are fitting for the global market. Oh, don’t take it the wrong way. I’m not saying that I can’t trust those Korean singers. It’s just that the singers need to be world stars when thinking about album sales. This is with keeping marketing in mind.”
Jun Hyuk looked at President Stern for a moment and laughed as he spoke. “Isaac.”
“From now on, you don’t need to explain all sorts of things to me or ask my opinion. You can just tell me what I need to do, whether that’s a stage or studio. Anything is fine. And you can do whatever you want for the people I will be performing with.”
President Stern was speechless at Jun Hyuk’s unexpected words. He fully understands what Jun Hyuk is saying. Jun Hyuk is not talking about the efficiency of the work they do, but that he trusts him.
When President Stern spoke again, he was smiling brightly.
“Fine. Then, I’ll have to really work you hard from now on. I’m going to treat you like a slave. Ha ha.”