[articles] YAM does Dresden… and very well.
— Cloud cover by: Stephe, Managing Editor ^@@^
Bravo to Julili at YAM. If this were baseball, we would call this a home run!
YAM Magazine 5/23/2011 — by Julili / Photos by Oliver Killig
Dresden Music Festival 2011: Rain & Jan Vogler
When the word that Bi Rain — one, if not the biggest, Kpop acts of today — was coming to Dresden for a concert, I pretty much laughed at the idea. Why was one of Kpop’s finest coming to Dresden of all places? Imagine my shock when I received the link to buy tickets, and I was directed to a classical music festival.
Who was Jan Vogler, and how was Rain going to perform with a cello player? Why was Rain going to perform with a cello player? What was this collaboration all about?
The questions were many, and the answers way too few. It wasn’t until my interview with Jan Vogler that I got to find out what it was all about. A collaboration between two music artist that happened to like each other’s craft. Although Vogler told me what to expect, nothing could really prepare me for the event. I still find it a very weird combination, albeit a very ambitious and interesting one.
It was through this partnership that I found out more about Vogler. I am not a newcomer to classical music, but I did not know of him. I know now that he is one amazing cello player, though the cello is not one of my favorite instruments — I’m more of a violin lover. Yet, the way Vogler performs Yes, I will be listening to more of him.
On that note, I must confess: I’m not a huge fan of Bi Rain.
I do know of his popularity and importance in the Kpop scene, but it wasn’t until his latest mini album — Back to the Basic — that I started to really pay attention to him. I was still not a fan, but I was not to pass the opportunity to see him live.
Blurring the Boundaries between genres and continents
Classical music and Korean pop met in Semperoper (Semper Opera House), first built in 1841. It is hard to say how many of the attending crowd were there to see Rain and how many were there to see Vogler. One thing is certain, I’ve never attended an event at an opera house where the crowd were screaming like banshees.. or, let’s call them very “passionate” fans (like one overly passionate fan that started to dance along to Hip Song in the aisle).
It was pure madness, and I believe that many classical fans were left a bit scarred.
I guess that is what you get when you have Kpop involved. From being a very small sub-culture, it’s growing to Beatle-hysteria. I believe that the Rain fans tried to behave as well as possible, but even I couldn’t contain my excitement.
Vogler started off the concert with Bach’s Cellosuite No. 1 , a very impressive piece that happens to be one of my favorites. For a minute there I did believe I was at a classical concert, but as soon as that happened, the volume was cranked up revealing Rain on the stage. He started off with Rainism followed off by It’s Raining.
Talk about rocking out the opera house. I don’t think girls have gone this crazy since Mozart’s era.
When combining classical music with mainstream pop, there’s a big challenge to solve. As Vogler explained, “the challenge lied in keeping the essence of each of them.” The show had them doing their own thing, and then getting them together, and back to doing their own thing again. Yes, the show allowed them their own essence to be shared. I doubt that any of the fans that came to see Rain, weren’t a little bit impressed by Vogler. Though many of the people who came to see Vogler must have been a little bit puzzled about Rain. Not only were we listening to pop music at an opera house, it was being sung in Korean — sorry, couldn’t avoid that pun , shout out to Colbert!
Overall, the show was a very fulfilling hour where we all got the best of both worlds. I bet Vogler is going to gain some new fans. As I wrote earlier, I myself will certainly look up more from Vogler. Though, a part of me wishes I could have heard some of Rain’s songs completely played by the cello. This concert really left me wanting more. More of Rain’s songs played in only cello and more of Vogler interpreting Rain’s songs. All the possibilities!
Can I ask for another collaboration between them two?
YAM Magazine 5/24/2011 — by Julili
Interview with Jan Vogler – Dresden, Germany
First off, let me start by asking, how much do you know about Korean music? To be able to have this kind of concert/collaboration?
Well, it all came through the personal meeting with Rain. I went to Korea to join the German president for a state visit. He chose me as a cultural ambassador, and it was at a very short notice. I had to cancel all my concerts in Germany in order to be able to accompany the president to Korea. It was a very intensive three days.
At some point, I had heard about Rain from Sung-Joo Kim from MCM. She said “you have to meat Rain,” so sure enough we had a dinner where we got together. At first, I listened to what he told me about Kpop and I spoke about classical music, but it was very distant. I think we liked each other, but it was basically a normal dinner.
Then somehow he suggested that we should meet the next day. He wanted to play a little bit of his music, and I brought my cello along. I played some on the cello for him, classical music, and he touched the cello and tried a few notes. He then showed me his songs, and it was one moment, when we both noticed that we really like what the other person did artistically. It was really a split second. I think that he saw in my eyes that I was not pretending to like his music. I really liked it and I was very impressed.
I think in the same way, I must have played something on the cello that clicked, a moment where he felt something. In that moment, we shook hands and we were friends.
What an amazing story! So have you studied his music? Listened to more of his older albums?
Yeah, it’s not really studying, it’s more like when between friends, you listen to each others work. Then when I invited him to the concert in Dresden, he didn’t hesitate. He just said “great, amazing, let’s do it!”.
Is there any difference in preparing a concert with a classical orchestra (ensemble) and preparing for a concert with a Korean pop star? Because we don’t really know what to expect of this concert. Where is the difference in between them two?
I must confess that preparing for this concert is much more extensive then to prepare for a classical concert. [laughs]
I see! Is it because you need to mix the genres?
That’s actually not the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge lies in keeping our own artistic power. Because, when I come to a concert I know what to do with my audience, and Rain certainly knows what to do with his [laughs]. So the challenge lies in not making the message smaller, but larger.
What we decided to do, and this is not a secret, is to first present our art in its purest form. I will play truly classical music, something that is a symbol of our Western music: Bach. The god of music. I will play a piece for a cello solo. So really something many of the audience may never have heard of.
Oh but I have, I know my Bach.
Really? But many of them won’t. Which is great.
A lot of people are there for Rain.
Yes and my audience is also going to be there so we have prepared a lot.
You will see introduction movies, which I never do in a classical concert, where I will speak to the audience and introduce them both to each other (the classical fans and the Kpop fans). I will try to connect them first. A lot of thought lies behind this.
When I’m playing my Bach, there will also be movies to show the elements, as to give people who never heard Bach an entrance. Which I normally don’t have to give because I come in, and people already know my music. When Rain comes in, he will also have a movie, to introduce him to the classical audience who will be there tonight as well.
Once that is done, it is the moment to join. When we come together, we also made a big effort to really work it out. I hope very much that we are going to keep our message, and join in a way to overcome the old idea of a crossover, which often makes the message smaller.
It seems like a very little number of mainstream European and American artists actually try to explore the mix of classical music and their genres – while in places like China, Taiwan and Japan there are a number of artists with basis in classical music who create much richer experiences. Do you think this fusion is important? How?
I think that, specially for an Asian artist, it has a certain attraction because Asia is huge when it comes to classical music. Almost everybody knows about classical music and imagine now, that somebody like Rain gets interested in classical music — I think it can build a bridge to audiences which are interested in both, or could be interested in both. I do think that everybody will benefit from it, from audience to artists.
In terms of the Korean pop industry, we can only come up with Seo Taji’s Symphony project, which was directed by Tolga Kashif with the participation of the Royal Philharmonic – Bi Rain is another huge Asian superstar, have you given any thoughts as to whom you’d like to collaborate in similar projects?
For me this is an emotional question. You can not construct those things, I’m the least person that can construct those things. I basically travel around the world, and I meet a lot of interesting people. If I meet a person I would love to collaborate with, it will grow. I really trust that life brings people together, and I do not plan those things. It’s more of a chance, then you see a chance and a if window opens then we use it.
So we might see a collaboration between you and say, Lady Gaga?
Who knows? [laughs]