Poster image for the 13th Seoul International Music Festival “Amusement Park” (SIMF)

The 13th Seoul International Music Festival, one of the major annual classical music festivals held every fall in Korea, is held in October under the title “Amusement Park”.

The festival will be held across Seoul, including the Seoul Arts Center and Lotte Concert Hall, from October 23-30, hoping to bring joy and comfort to classical music audiences affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the global music scene continues to struggle in the midst of the virus crisis, this year’s SIMF offers a new repertoire and presents three new commissioned works: Nam Sang-bong’s “Mysterious Amusement Park”, Bach-Ryu Jea-joon’s Concertante for 12 cellos and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons by Buenos Aires arranged by James Barralet.

The festival starts with the opening concert “Ring Ring Ring”, in which the new work Symphony No. 2 is presented by artistic director Ryu Jae-joon.

The 75-minute symphony was inspired by Ryu’s nephews and nieces, who were unable to go to school regularly due to the pandemic. Ryu was also inspired by sonnets Shakespeare wrote from his isolation over a bubonic plague outbreak.

Although the symphony piece was written in the midst of the pandemic – it became the norm as small chamber music instead of large orchestral performances – the work includes a full orchestra, several singers, and a choir.

The festival also offers three chamber music performances with the titles “From deep forest”, “Water of the brook” and “Mysterious amusement park” with works by Schumann, Debussy, Brahms, Strauss and others.

The festival concludes with the “Merry-Go-Round” recital with 12 cellists. The cellists – Song Young, Arto Noras, Dmitry Kouzov, Maja Bogdanovic and more – present well-known signature cello repertoires in a larger version. Like a carousel, the cellists take turns on stage and present Klengel’s Hymn for 12 cellos op. 57, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for cellos and soprano, along with other works. Soprano Lee Myung-joo will take the stage.

Tickets for the festival will open on Wednesday.

From Im Eun-byel (