Celebrating Korean Foundation Day brings something for everyone in Dar
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BAI Il-Hwan (first right) came with his cello and seven other musicians to participate in the 4,349th Korean Foundation Day celebrations, here in Dar es Salaam last Tuesday. (Photo by Iman Mani)

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BRINGING eight musicians in Dar es Salaam to participate in the 4,349th Korean Foundation Day celebrations on Tuesday evening, certainly helped improve the general ambience in the hall.

The Deputy Chief of Mission, Jiin An, explained how she was relieved to see their guests following attentively to the music, provided by the musicians, who were led by Bai IlHwan, on the cello.

An, who is also First Secretary at the Mission, was pleased to see that many people came and from their facial expressions she gathered they also enjoyed the musical addition. Similarly, the Karibu Arts and Crafts Managing Director, Origenes Uiso.

He told the ‘Daily News’ the live music was simply “very good” and took him back to 1993, when he had visited Korea. There was an opportunity to have a word with Il-Hwan after the musicians had finished presenting their repertoire, which included the presentation of “Malaika”, “He Raised Me Up”, “Jambo Bwana” and the national anthems of both countries.

He told the ‘Daily News’ that back home in Korea he is a professor at Kyemyung University and the Executive Director of a charity called “Beautiful Mind”. “All of us eight musicians are part of the ensemble we have at the Beautiful Mind charity, which has over 20 musicians,” Il-Hwan explained.

“We play everything in music, that is be it Jazz, Classical or Hip-hop. We have singers, who sing Korean traditional music and others who deal with music of today. We even have some very skilled musicians with disability, infact we have the only pianist suffering with cerebral palsy in the world,” he said with pride.

The reason why the charity has the ensemble, the Cellist says, is in line with their belief that music with love, especially when doing charity work, has “the power of healing hearts and minds”.

According to him, they have experienced this over and over again, since their establishment more than ten years ago. Being a private organisation, he explains, means they have to raise their own funds, however, they do receive some assistance from their government.

Il-Hwan also said they had entered the country last Friday and were scheduled to leave for Bo tswana yesterday (Wednesday). During their time here, he added they visited a children home, with gifts of bread and juice, plus one-hour playing music for them.

“Those children had never heard classical music before nor had they seen Korean traditional dress. Now you could see that they were really amazed with our performance. It was also a good experience for us,” he admitted.

The following day they went to a Korean church here, where they also played some music and on Monday they visited the Salvation Army school, which he said, made their visit here very beneficial.

He admitted that the main reason why they had come here was for the celebrations of the Korean 4,349th Foundation Day, but the ensemble had asked for these other engagements, so as to make the visit more useful and in keeping with their charity’s mission.

It is part of the Ensemble’s tradition, Il-Hwan said to play some folk (traditional) music from every country that they visit, in their repertoire. They always want to present a mixture of Korean culture blended into that of the particular other country.

From the conversation with Il-Hwan, it was learnt that they had prepared their repertoire back in Korea. The visiting party also included three magicians and two singers so as to give local here a broader glimpse into their culture.

The cellist also said that from the small exposure of local music they got while here he concluded “it has a soul”. Included in the eight musicians was Soobin Tae, who presented a taste of Korean Narrative songs.

For her, it was an honour participating in the celebrations, which also had the dual purpose of commemorating 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. There was also an opportunity to hear what their “Tenor”, Kang Yun-Jong, had to say.

He also teaches voice at Kyemyung University, apart from being part of the ensemble. When addressing his guest Ambassador Song Geum-young made a point to reminding them that “People’s welfare and the principle of humanitarianism have been deeply embedded in Koreans thinking and culture.

The Guest of Honour, Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Makame Mbarawa, mentioned the rich history up-on which the National Day is based has not only been an integral part of Korean national identity, However, has also laid a firm foundation of what the Republic of Korea is today.

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