Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Know My Redeemer Liveth

Last night I went to Seoul City Hall to see a Korean-foreigner co-production of Handel's Messiah. I've become to accustomed seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Christmas, so I figured I needed some kind of holiday spectacle. Plus I have been binging on classical lately, anyway—Mozart's Requiem has been on repeat in this apartment the last few days.

The Camarata Chorale is an amateur group (with professionals in their midst, so I guess the best description would be a "professional amateur group") that just started here in Seoul; Messiah was actually their first performance. They sang the entire thing and did a pretty good job of it. Bits of the orchestra were rough around the edges but a better job than I could have done, so I'm certainly not going to be a snob about it. The Korean tenor and the Korean mezzo-soprano were outstanding, as well—well, all of the soloists were, but they were my favorites, with a bit more power to their voices. The conductor was a bit distracting, he had this strange stiff-but-also-fluid way of moving. Like pop-locking, almost.

Chung-dong First Methodist hosted the concert. Check out those pipes—definitely a notch or two above the small rural churches I've been to at home.

The entire chorale, the image quality blows because it's a photo of the live video feed. But it's enough to give you an impression of the size of the group.

The soprano and the mezzo-soprano during a solo, towards the end of the concert. I neglected to get a picture of the male soloists. Oops.

It was probably the largest collection of foreigners in one place I've seen outside of Itaewon. The English-speaking pastor at Chung-Dong spoke during intermission and commented that the Koreans felt like the foreigners here tonight. Which reminded me why I sometimes want to punch the other foreigners here in the face: the group of Engrishee teachers next to me were all on their way to an ugly sweater party (Stuff White People Like #118, and one that I didn't know existed until I started reading the SWPL blog), the appeal of which I just can't understand because it smacks of the hipster irony that's become so trendy lately. Korea may have issues with misogyny and racism, but at least their young people aren't rampantly ironic.

It also baffled me that almost every foreigner I overheard on my way out the door was talking about going to drink at this or that party. A few mentioned Itaewon, even—Wolfhound, which is a nice enough pseudo-Irish pub but I fail to see the point of coming all the way to Korea to drink at a Western bar. The performance ended at about 10 pm. I had left the 'dong at about 5 to get here; I was simply too exhausted to do the usual "foreigner Saturday night." But I suppose most of them hadn't come all the way from North Korea, as it were.

Anyway, City Hall and the nearby area was also decked out for Christmas. Behold the tree:

and the Christmas lights at the Seoul Museum of Art, which is right next to the church (and where I see myself going before I leave, looks like they have a pretty neat pop art exhibition at the moment):

Yes, no snow to speak of—it certainly comes down (maybe three or four times already) but it doesn't seem to stick. Not even out here in the 'dong. White Christmas? Not very likely.


  1. A Korean friend says it is forecasted to snow on Christmas - maybe you will be in luck after all!