The Seoul International Music Festival 2014 (SIMF) kicked off on May 7 across the city, with concerts being held at the Seoul Arts Center, the Kumho Art Hall and at the College of Music of Seoul National University (SNU).
The classical music festival, now in its fifth year, has been serving the city's growing classical music fan base since 2009, when world-class musicians, most significantly Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, were invited to perform for domestic audiences for the first time. The festival has been going strong ever since, only missing one year, in 2012.
This year's series of concerts were especially designed to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Korea and Italy, and festival organizers have brought in some of the finest Italian musicians.
The Europa Galante orchestra, an Italian period instrument ensemble, opens the Seoul International Music Festival 2014 with a concert on May 7. (photo courtesy of the SIMF organizing committee)
Among them is the Europa Galante orchestra, an Italian period instrument Baroque orchestra led by violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi. Europa Galante opened the three-week festival with a concert at the Seoul Arts Center on the night of May 7.
The ensemble, famous for its outstanding renditions of songs by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), showed off its popular repertoire for festival goers. In particular, their version of "The Four Seasons", a set of four violin concertos and one of Vivaldi's most famous works, was performed on their Baroque string instruments, recreated with modern touches, making the masterpiece sound somewhat like rock music.
Baroque violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi leads the Italian period instrument orchestra Europa Galante. (photo courtesy of the SIMF organizing committee)