Sunday, 27 March 2016

New Music in Tongyeong

After 26 hours of travelling, I've arrived in Tongyeong, South Korea, where I'm delighted to be representing Wales as a delegate at this year’s ISCM World Music Days. The International Society for Contemporary Music held their first annual World Music Days back in 1923 and each year presents music from over fifty different countries. Last year Wales became the latest country to join and will have its music represented at the days from 2018 onwards. I'm here attending the conference and concerts at this year’s music days in the coastal city of Tongyeong on the southern tip of the Goseong Peninsula. 

Before the opening reception at the city's concert hall, I had a chance to spend a day in the brilliant Easter Sunday sunshine visiting the seaport city itself. Down in the harbour there's no doubt that this is a fishing town.

Here's the entrance to the fish market where people sell fish traditionally as they probably have here for hundreds of years.

Korea is very modern - on a two hour car journey to get here I did not see any building that looked more than fifty years old. It is full of bright primary colours, the landscape scorched and, on the southern peninsula at least, the cities and towns surrounded by mountains that remind one strongly of Hokusai. But in Tongyeong, despite its size (the population is 120,000), there is not one apartment store and virtually no international chain stores (apparently they had two Starbucks, but one has just closed). Instead it is riot of small little shops with bright eye-catching signage.

Unlike Britain where one would never know that a contemporary music festival was happening (because signs and banners cost so much), here there are signs and banner everywhere proclaiming the Sounds of Tomorrow Festival

At 5pm there was a reception at the concert hall here with about a hundred composers squeezed into a small room where Philip Glass made a speech and Unsuk Chin arrived for the festival. Take a look at the photos on the ISCM's Facebook page. Tomorrow my work as a delegate begins - fourteen hours of meetings and concerts with over 50 pieces of contemporary music.

You can find out more about the ISCM here and more details of this year’s festival here. Look out for more details of the visit over the next few days.

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