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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3

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Black Tie International:
East Meets West:  Sejong Soloists 11th Anniversary Gala

 

 

EAST MEETS WEST: SEJONG SOLOISTS RETURN TO
ZANKEL HALL AT CARNEGIE

FOR THEIR 11TH ANNIVERSARY GALA

CONCERT, HOSTED BY PAULA ZAHN, FEATURES SPECIAL GUEST ARTIST, ACCLAIMED MEZZO-SOPRANO
SASHA COOKE, AND THE NEW YORK DEBUT

OF RISING-STAR PIANIST SEONG-JIN CHO

 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Paula Zahn

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Paula Zahn

Paula Zahn & Sejong Soloists

Paula Zahn, also a cellist, performed “White Christmas” with the ensemble.


Sejong Soloists, the hip,
14-piece conductor-less string ensemble returned for its Eleventh Annual Gala on Thursday at Zankel Hall at Carnegie. Television journalist Paula Zahn served as emcee for the 11th year in a row for the event, which was sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Visit Korea Year tourism campaign and Samsung Electronics America Inc. The performance featured special guest artists mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, pianist Seong-Jin Cho and violinist Daniel Cho.

            United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and more than 30 United Nations ambassadors, including In-kook Park, attended, as did Consul General Young-Mok Kim.

Makgeolli, Korean rice wine, was introduced to Carnegie Hall at a pre-concert reception hosted by Samuel Koo, president of the Seoul Tourism Organization. Sejong also brought kimchi to Carnegie for the first time at a reception for its 2007 concert in honor of Secretary-General Ban.

The ensemble, which performs under the artistic direction of Juilliard violin faculty member Hyo Kang, consists of some of the finest rising stars from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Each member is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician in his or her own right; together they form a “dream team,” performing in cities throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia.  The Sejong Soloists perform music from the standard string literature, but they are also committed to new music, and have commissioned works from composers such as Augusta Read Thomas, Richard Danielpour, Eric Ewazen and Jay Greenberg, among others. Based in New York, the group has its second home in Seoul.

“I can hardly believe I am upon my second decade with this brilliant ensemble,” said Paula Zahn, who hosted the evening and joined the ensemble on cello for the holiday favorite “White Christmas.” “And I am just as excited tonight as I was the very first time I heard them play.” 

The evening saw the introduction of Seong-Jin Cho, (no relation to Daniel), to New York City audiences. The 16-year-old is already a celebrated pianist in Korea and Japan. He has already garnered top prizes in both the 7th Hamamatsu International Piano competition and the 6th Moscow Chopin Competition for Young Pianists. Recently he participated in the Castleton Festival where he played the Grieg Piano Concerto at the invitation of Lorin Maazel.

Sixteen-year-old violinist and Julliard Pre-College Division student Daniel Cho was the winner of the 2009 Great Mountains international Music Festival Competition. The two are scheduled to record the Mendelssohn piece for Universal Korea later this year. Their appearances were in keeping with Sejong Soloists’ mission to foster the next generation of musicians so as to keep classical music alive.

“This was a very meaningful and special moment all around: a young composer’s work was played by young people with incredible energy,” said Kang. “It is a proud moment to discover such stellar talent and be able to create an opportunity for them to perform at Carnegie Hall, much to the delight of tonight’s audience.”

The concert also featured celebrated American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, a graduate of Rice University, the Juilliard School, and the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Cooke caused a sensation as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic. She was praised in The New Yorker for her “fresh, vital portrayal, bringing a luminous tone, a generously supported musical line, a keen sense of verbal nuance, and a flair for seduction.”

“With dignitaries like top U.N. diplomats attending, we are happy to partner with Sejong Soloists,” said Koo. “The Sejong Soloists ensemble is a fixture on Seoul’s exciting cultural scene, which counts more artistic performance of all kinds on an average day than any other Asian city.”

 

About Sejong Soloists:

Renowned for its exceptional dynamic style with ranges of quartet-like precision to full orchestra resonance, Sejong Soloists has established itself to be a first-class string orchestra. The ensemble has performed approximately 400 concerts on major stages around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Cadogan Hall (London), Salle Gaveau (Paris), Suntory Hall (Tokyo) and Seoul Arts Center. The diverse ensemble was founded by Artistic Director Hyo Kang, a renowned violin professor at Yale University and the Juilliard School, to bring performances, television and radio broadcasts, youth development activities as well as philanthropic endeavors worldwide. 

Joyce Brooks

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