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[Feauture] Offering classical music to more in Seoul

With tickets to classical music concerts typically around 100,000 won ($85), and sometimes triple that for big-name performers, prices have been a major barrier to widening the audience for classical music.

To lower that barrier, organizations hold concerts for free or at a relatively affordable price, sponsored by the government or companies.

These outreach concerts often feature pieces with a wide appeal and recognition, even among people unfamiliar with classical music

Concerts move out of concert halls 

The M-Pat Classical Music Festival holds outdoor opera performance every year. (MCF)
The M-Pat Classical Music Festival holds outdoor opera performance every year. (MCF)

The Mapo Culture Foundation is holding the 4th M-Pat Classical Music Festival from Sept. 3 to Oct. 24 throughout Mapo-gu district.

During the 50-day festival, some 500 participating artists will give more than 70 performances around Mapo, at large concert halls, parks, churches and markets. The highest priced ticket costs 20,000 won.

“It is important for classical music artists to find venues to perform. But from the audience’s viewpoint, it is also important to make everyday locations more special by adding the value of classical music,” Lee Chang-ki, the head of the foundation, said at a press event held Tuesday in central Seoul.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute,” staged Sept. 6-7 at a waterside stage in Sangam World Cup Park. Though the sung parts will be sung in German, the spoken lines will be delivered in Korean for easier understanding.

Another event to look out for is Korean Gagok Renaissance. One hundred singers will sing 100 pieces of gagok, a type of traditional music. The event is slated to take place from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22 at Mapo Art Center.

“I believe other art forms, such as K-pop, can prosper only through firm foundation in pure arts. Through the festival, we will make Mapo-gu the mecca of culture art tourism,” Lee said.

For more information, check the festival’s website at

Quality performances across Seoul 

Outreach concert held by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO)
Outreach concert held by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO)

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra has been holding its outreach performances, titled Neighborhood Concert, to bring classical music to the people.

Working in partnership the 25 main districts in Seoul, the SPO holds free orchestral and chamber ensemble performances at venues such as community centers, universities and hospitals.

From 2006 to 2018, more than 400,000 people have enjoyed around 450 programs of the Neighborhood Concert series. The SPO’s associate conductor and principal guest conductors take the baton for these concerts.
The orchestra, funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, also holds a number of large-scale concerts at major concert halls for free.

For more information, check the orchestra’s English website at

Classical music at old palace 

Classical music performance held at Seokjojeon Hall in Deoksugung (KACF)
Classical music performance held at Seokjojeon Hall in Deoksugung (KACF)

The Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation, best known for its support of Korea’s young musical prodigies, also organizes free concerts for a wider audience.

Since 2015, classical music performances have been held at Seokjojeon Hall, Deoksugung, on the last Wednesday of each month.

Seokjojeon Hall is a neo-classical building constructed in 1910. Inspired by stories of how King Gojong enjoyed piano performances at the hall, the Korea Cultural Heritage Administration and the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation co-organized the monthly classical music event.

Chamber group Kumho Asiana Soloists, consisting rising musicians, take to the stage for the series. This season, from July to November, each program is themed around different nations, including France and Russia, in remembrance of how the Korean Empire sought modernization in the late 19th century.

The performances are free of charge. Check Deoksugung’s website at a week before each performance. Seating is limited 90. The September concert is reserved for invited members of the public from underprivileged backgrounds.

By Im Eun-byel  (