Originally from Seoul, Haerim Seok is a Korean composer based in Newmarket, Ontario. Her output ranges from instrumental works, computer music, and pieces for young musicians. She holds degrees in music composition from Yonsei University and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where she received her doctorate. Her piece, Hanabie will be performed by clarinetist Andrea Vos-Rochefort on our April 11 Solo Soundbox Concert in collaboration with 21c Museum Hotel.
CSB: Could you tell us a little about your work as a composer?
HS: I would say that I’m very drawn to melody and incorporating clear structures, often based on classical forms. Even as a child, my musical upbringing was steeped in part writing, analysis, and honoring the classics. A fascination with contemporary music techniques didn’t come until later, so I guess a lot of my work as a composer is about finding a personal way to connect materials both old and new.
I’m also particularly interested in writing solo and duo pieces, sometimes with, sometimes without electronics. This is because I feel that identity in today’s world is more about the individual and less about belonging to a group.
CSB: What is the background to your piece for this concert, Hanabie?
HS: Hanabie is a Japanese term describing a sudden period of cold in the early spring. THe word itself translates to “jealousy of flowers”, so I tried to musically represent aspects of this change of weather, things like rushing winds and rapidly fluctuating temperatures. Around the time that I started writing this piece I became very interested in the clarinet, the wide range and the distinct timbres of each register. So this piece was also just about seeing what I could do with a clarinet.
CSB: How did you see the environment for new music in Cincinnati change throughout your time here? Do you see any similarities or connections in your current location?
HS: When I arrived in Cincinnati in 2010, there were new music concerts, but what seems to have changed is that things have become more organized. There seems to be a move towards putting together different concert series to address themes that represent artists in Cincinnati (Soundbox is a great example of this) and I feel that this is a good thing because it helps foster an understanding of new music in the area for people outside of the community.
I’ve only been living in the Toronto area for a couple months and have yet to experience and understand much of the new music scene around here, so at this point it’s hard to say if I see any similarities. It’s a large and very multicultural city, and showcasing the music of immigrant communities seems to be quite important.
CSB: What are some of the upcoming projects and performances on your radar?
HS: Currently I’m working on a flute ensemble piece for an all-female, all-Korean flute ensemble. It will be a great opportunity for self-exploration as I am female, Korean, and a former flautist. I’m also interested in writing some music for amateur and church choirs this year as I worked as a church musician for many years.