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Hanwha Classic continues with decade-long promotion of Baroque music

Il Giardino Armonico and Avi Avital take stage at Seoul Art Center

By Park Ga-young

Published : Dec. 11, 2023 - 16:46

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Giovanni Antonini (left), an Italian conductor and soloist of recorder and Baroque transverse flute who leads Il Giardino Armonico and Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital pose for photos during a press conference at The Plaza Seoul on Monday. (Hanwha) Giovanni Antonini (left), an Italian conductor and soloist of recorder and Baroque transverse flute who leads Il Giardino Armonico and Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital pose for photos during a press conference at The Plaza Seoul on Monday. (Hanwha)

When the Hanwha Classic, a 10-year-old concert series that highlights Baroque music, returns this year with a top Italian ensemble and star mandolinist, it will be offering a rare chance not only for period music fans but also for the musicians who continue to evolve to enjoy Baroque music.

Titled “Unity: Il Giardino Armonico and Avi Avital,” the concerts will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at the Concert Hall of the Seoul Arts Center.

For the 10th anniversary of the Hanwha Classic, Il Giardino Armonico and Avi Avital, a renowned Israeli mandolinist, are joining forces to perform works by Handel, Barbella, Vivaldi and Bach.

Il Giardino Armonico, led by Giovanni Antonini, is an ensemble that focuses on 17th- and 18th-century music.

The 37-year-old ensemble -- the name of which means “The Harmonious Garden” in English -- has been carrying out its musical mission with a fresh mind, Antonini, Italian conductor and soloist of recorder and Baroque transverse flute, told reporters during a press conference held Monday at The Plaza Seoul.

“We never stop researching, even when we play the same pieces that we've played for many years. We always try different things in interpretation," said Antonini. "Sometimes we try things that are opposed to what we did before, because the musical interpretation must be something always absolutely alive," he added. Such efforts are also for the musicians themselves as they try to remain fresh and young when playing music, he elaborated.

Avital, 45, recalled when he first encountered Il Giardino Armonico’s music at the age of 18.

“Two seeds were planted in my head at the time in my 18-year-old brain. First is that this is how I want to play music with this energy and with this devotion and the second was, ‘Who knows, maybe one day I get to play with Il Giardino Armonico.'”

The 120-minute concert will feature Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. VI No. 1, Barbella’s Concerto for Mandolin in D major, Vivaldi's Concerto in E-flat major RV 253 “La Tempesta Di Mare,” Bach’s Concerto for Recorder, Mandolin BWV 1060, an extended version of Giovanni Sollima’s “So,” Vivaldi’s Concerto RV 90 for Flute in D major “Il Gardellino," Concerto RV 580 for Four Violins in B minor also by Vivaldi and Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Mandolin BWV 1052.

Hanwha commissioned the Italian composer and cellist Sollima to create a longer version of “So" and Antonini will play the 'piri,' a Korean traditional instrument woodwind instrument, for the piece.

Hanwha, a South Korean conglomerate, supports classical music with two annual events: the Hanwha Classic and the Orchestra Festival with Hanwha.

To increase accessibility for those who are not familiar with Baroque music, tickets for all seats are priced at 35,000 won and a program book will be provided free of charge. An explanation session by Hanyang University music professor Chung Kyung-young will be provided at the beginning of the concert to enhance understanding of the program.