American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Music is a great possibility that exists in human minds. " Music has power to entertain people and also comfort sorrows. A number of students are contributing to positive change in the world and spreading the value of harmony and interaction through music. The Sookmyung Times interviewed Kang Keunjoo, leader of KUCO, to hear about the orchestra’s various attempts to become a better orchestra.
Please give us background information about KUCO and introduce the orchestra's various activities.
KUCO is a student orchestra group, and its members are passionate about music. KUCO stands for Korea United College Orchestra. In March 2010, two Hanyang University students aspired to create a historic concert with college students who really loved music and were willing to work hard to create great music. To realize the dream, founding members visited maestro Gum Nanse in person. The maestro was impressed by their enthusiasm and then decided to conduct and teach the college amateur orchestra. 25 universities took part with students from about 60 different majors. On January 22th, 2011, KUCO was officially established and since that time, it has continued to do meaningful work. We have exotic performances such as appearances in cinema lobbies and out on Hongdae street. We have also established the Korea Young Dream Orchestra (KYDO) for youth in rural communities who have not had the opportunity to experience the benefits of arts and culture. You can often find us at hospitals, where we heal the hearts of patients. KUCO is still striving to go beyond traditional visions and goals to become more advanced.
How do you prepare for regular performances and other KUCO performances?
Members are also enrolled students, so during the semester, we have a variety of small-scale performances and prepare for regularly established performances and large-scale performances during the vacation. If we only spent hours upon hours rehearsing for performances, members would burn out, so we also attend performing arts and go on outings. Performance preparation differs according to whether the performance is self-planned or not. Sponsored by an event host, we only need to prepare for the performance. However, if we are putting on the performance ourselves, we must do all preparations like from negotiating a host place to promotion. Last summer, we held the performance, Carry Across the Youth. The entire event was controlled by our club, from selecting the concert hall to promotion. It was probably the proudest moment of our performance career though it was hard work.
What do you achieve from activities of KUCO, and would you please tell us about any certain performance moment that remains clear in your memory?
Last year, during an event, a 6 or 7 year-old boy walked right up to the players. It was in an outdoor museum concert at the National Museum. It was quiet embarrassing, but also a good experience because the boy seemed to recognize the intention of the performance was to remove barriers between the stage and audience so that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the performance. KUCO hopes that all people learn to love classical music and performances by an orchestra by engaging in a variety of outdoor concerts. Through these activities, members learn the spirit of cooperation and challenge. Also, it is hoped that one senses group energy as well as personal energy through KUCO’s activities. Indeed, KUCO is a challenge, both by the individual and cooperating with others, but it’s energizing. Through the activities of KUCO, we hope to boost the dreams of the youth, inspire the music industry to go in new directions, and contribute to South Korea’s strength.