Written by Anne Ierardi
Jung Ho Pak Serves Up a Delectable Three Course Meal at Opening Season of Cape Symphony
“If music be the food of love, play on” – Shakespeare
I had the pleasure of speaking with Maestro Jung-Ho Pak before last weekend’s concert. We got on the subject of Mexican food. He shared a wild dream about opening a restaurant with food from many world cultures for people like himself with eclectic tastes. Fortunately for us Cape Codders, his breadth of vision extends not only to food but to a musical imagination that embraces all who come to his wonderful concerts.
Last Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon offered up a delicious feast for the senses in an all-Russian program. Each masterpiece delighted the audience with a full course, starting with dynamic virtuoso guest violinist Lindsay Deutsch performing Khachaturian’s fiery concerto followed by the splendid orchestration and color of the “Russian Easter Festival Overture” by Rimsky-Korsakov and then Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.”
John Clarke whet our appetites with his savory pre-concert lecture. With good humor, he joked about a lady who let him know that while she appreciated his talking she also wanted to hear a preview of the music to be performed. John hooked up a CD machine with a beautiful full sound so we could listen to a snippet of the concert pieces. After I came home I hunted through my albums (yes I still own a stereo and love vinyl) and CDs to find two of the three selections to enjoy again.
A longtime friend who attended the symphony for many years called me the next day marveling at the performance. While Jung Ho often has more to say at other concerts, she thought it just right that he “let the music speak for itself.” Both of us had noted how the orchestra shined. My friend told me that she particularly was drawn to many of the individual instruments, including the triangle and the harp. While there was clearly a unity among the musicians there were also many sparks to heighten our awareness.
Clarke spoke of Khachaturian as a master of melody who combined his love for his native Armenian folk music with Russian and European modern classical works. He told us that the Violin Concerto in D Minor was written near the birth of Khachaturian’s son “as though aware of happiness awaiting the birth” with a “twinge of sadness in the minor key.”
Violinist Lindsay Deutsch played with such verve, passion and athletic skill that the audience broke into applause after the first movement. At one point, Lindsay and Jung-Ho formed a stunningly beautiful sculptural formation. Jung- Ho described Lindsay as “a young, extremely dynamic player” who would fit perfectly to perform this “very athletic and exhausting piece.”
Lindsay was raised in Houston, Texas, where she began her orchestral debut at age 11. She was concertmaster of the Disney Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra at age 12 under the direction of Jung-Ho Pak. She then moved to Los Angeles where she studied with renowned violin teacher Robert Lipsett.
Like Jung-Ho she shares a philosophy of engagement with the audience as well as her mission of widening the exposure of classical music to youth and other groups; she co-founded with her sister Laura a non-profit organization, Classics Alive (www.ClassicsAlive.org), dedicated to building classical music audiences.
The “Russian Easter Festival Overture” by Rimsky-Korsakov and the “Firebird Suite” by Stravinsky formed the second half of the program. “The Firebird” is an early Stravinsky colorful ballet suite that draws from an old Russian fairy tale of an evil wizard. Stravinsky, mentored by Rimsky-Korsakov, was only 28 when he wrote the piece that he dedicated to his master. Jung-Ho is thrilled to present this very challenging piece, the first major work of Stravinsky during his tenure.
The “Easter Festival” is a haunting piece combining pagan themes with Russian Orthodox Liturgy chants, which communicated the passion, energy and color that Jung-Ho Pak brings to his audiences. In his words: “I want the audience to expect surprises. I want the soloists and players to share their feelings and emotions in how they communicate like Yo Yo Ma does with his whole body. I was a student of Bernstein one summer. Leonard Bernstein was our best of the century, far above his time, inspiring millions of Americans to appreciate classical music. A prophet for America – where are the prophets for today?”
This Symphony season promises to entertain, enlighten and communicate music. Jung-Ho’s recipe includes an “audacious” outreach to people of many tastes. His own musical taste buds extend to jazz, rock and world music “serving it up: All me,” he exclaimed. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the Golden Age of TV, from Andy Griffith to Hawaii Five-0 and Laurence Welk to eventually MTV. Jung-Ho is in touch with the pulse of America: “What I crave myself is what they want: entertainment, surprise. Take me out of the ordinary, and give me a good value for my money.”
October features “Radio Days,” swing music from World War II with the band By Design. “It will be like an MGM movie – close to the real thing.” Other performances include “Opera’s Greatest Moments” with soloists and the Chatham and Falmouth Chorales in November; the ever-popular Holiday Pops with guests Sioban Magnus, John Stevens, Patrick Thomas, the Chatham Chorale and the Cape Conservatory Dancers; then the New Year’s Day Party with Peter Schickele, of P.D.Q. Bach fame.
In January of 2015, “Passport to England” will highlight Gilbert and Sullivan, the Beatles and Downton Abbey. Other performances in 2015 include “Rhapsody in Bluegrass” with the Annie Moses Band from Nashville; “Carmina Burana” with the renowned Boston Camerata; and classical masterpieces “Symphony #4” by Mahler and Prokofiev’s “Giant.” Jung-Ho has endeavored to create a “continuous epiphany for the audience.”
He described Cape Cod as “the best community I have ever had the pleasure to serve. They welcomed and adopted me. I am repaid by their great attendance and support. A spiritual place, who it draws here, and a show piece orchestra.”
Cape Symphony –www.capesymphony.org.- 508-362-1111