The Korea Herald


With Bernstein's masterpieces, Ottensamer aims to present approachable classical music

Emerging conductor leads Lotte Concert Hall's Classic Revolution as artistic director

By Park Ga-young

Published : Aug. 8, 2023 - 17:32

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Andreas Ottensamer, the artistic director of Classic Revolution, Lotte Concert Hall's summer festival, talks during a press conference on Tuesday at Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, Seoul. (Lotte Concert Hall) Andreas Ottensamer, the artistic director of Classic Revolution, Lotte Concert Hall's summer festival, talks during a press conference on Tuesday at Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, Seoul. (Lotte Concert Hall)

Classic Revolution, Lotte Concert Hall’s summer musical festival which delves into a combination of composers each year, is set to return later this week with nine concerts from Friday to Aug. 20.

Leading this year's rendition is Austrian clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer, who said he designed the program to bring joy to audiences and make classical music more approachable by highlighting American conductor, composer, pianist and music educator Leonard Bernstein, as well as other composers who have had a great impact on him, such as Brahms, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Dvorak.

The 34-year-old emphasized that as we emerge from the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic, it holds significance to demonstrate the power of music. Bernstein's compositions, he said, bring people together and create enjoyable experiences. Additionally, he highlighted the upcoming film "Maestro," which illuminates the composer's life, as a means to spark people's curiosity and establish a connection between them and classical music.

“In Europe we're very good in creating connections between different areas of outside of classical music, like sports and fashion and other business areas, but in classical music, there seems to be some kinds of distance -- that’s what we can have impact by creating more approachable,” he told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.

Exploring his interests in multiple things lies within his upbringing. Ottensamer was born to a family full of professional musicians -- both his late father and his brother are clarinetists. He was naturally exposed to music and learned three instruments -- the piano, the cello and the clarinet. He later became the principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Expanding his musical scope, he made his debut as a conductor in the 2020 and 2021 season. In addition, as the music director, his upcoming project near Berlin includes a combination of sports and arts.

"I think the best things can happen, and the most potential can be unlocked, when passion meets passion in different fields -- they (create) synergies," he said.

The summer festival, in its fourth year, will begin on Friday when the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra takes the stage to perform Bernstein's "Candid Overture" under the baton of Ottensamer. "Candid Overture," as described by the artistic director, will mark the festival's joyful commencement.

After showing how folk music is incorporated in classical music in Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77, the first day will wrap up with Dvorak's Symphony No.9 in e minor, Op. 95, also known as "From the new world." This symphony, a masterpiece born from Dvorak's experiences in the US, holds special significance as it completes a thematic circle, connecting back to Bernstein, Ottensamer noted.

On Aug. 20, the final concert, with Brahms' "Tragic Overture" and "2 Waltzes for Clarinet and Orchestra," Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story'" and "Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs," he said, will show what served as an inspiration for composers. For this concert, which will also feature a big jazz band, Ottensamer will assume a dual role, both as clarinetist and conductor.

Other performers on the roster including flutist Kim Yubin, soprano Hwang Soo-mi, cellist Han Jae-min, pianist Yoon Hong-chen and tenor Shin Chang-yong will also take the stage during the festival.

Classic Revolution was launched in 2020 and sheds light on different combinations of composers annually. After focusing on Beethoven for its inaugural event, the second edition highlighted Brahms and Piazzolla, while the third series centered around Mendelssohn and Korngold.