Music lovers of all ages recently had the rare opportunity to watch world- renowned Korean soprano Sumi Jo live in concert at the Samsung Hall in SM Aura Premier.
The Grammy Award-winning singer and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Artist of Peace performed with acclaimed pianist Najib Ismail and flutist Raymond Sarreal to a sold-out crowd in an effort to raise funds for the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in Central Visayas following the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda last November. It was her first time to perform in the Philippines.
The crowd was mesmerized as Sumi Jo sang Henry Bishop’s “Lo! Here The Gentle Lark,” Antonio Vivaldi’s “Sposa son disprezzata,” Jean Paul Egide Martini’s “Plaisir d’amour,”Michael Balfe’s “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls,” George Gershwin’s “Summer Time”, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and even “Ari Arirang,” a Korean folk song, among others in her incredible voice.
The Korean community came in full force led by the Korean Ambassador His Excellency Hyuk Lee, Minister Min Kyong Ho, Counsellor for Culture and Public Relations Hwang Seong Un, and Korean Cultural Center General Manager Lee Du Kyung. Members of the music industry: respected opera singer Rochelle Gerodias, distinguished conductors Fidel Calalang and Bert Robledo, Manila Chamber Orchestra’s Joseph Uy and SinagTala Management for Filipino Performing Artists’s Martin Lopez also attended the event.
The Cultural Arts Events Organizer (CAEO) organized the concert in partnership the Korean Cultural Center of the Korean Embassy, SM Aura Premier, SM Tickets, the Manila Hotel, and Steinway & Sons Piano.
Sumi Jo was born to an amateur pianist and singer mother in 1952 in Seoul who influenced her to study music. Later, she left Seoul National University to study music at Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Described by Maestro Herbert Von Karajan, an Austrian orchestra conductor associated with the Berlin Philharmonic, as “The Voice from Above,” this South Korean lyric coloratura soprano is known for her wonderful interpretations of the bel canto repertoire.
She has been touted as the first Korean soprano to perform at the most prestigious opera houses including La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and Théâtre National de l’Opéra de Paris. The orchestras she has collaborated with include those led by famous conductors such as Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, and Giuseppe Sinopoli,among others.
Praised by her supreme operatic ability, the Korean singer was named the Best Soprano of the Year at the 6th La Siola d’Oro in Italy in 1993 and received an International Puccini Award in 2008, making her the first non-Italian recipient.Aside from winning numerous Grammy Awards, her musicality have gone beyond classical music into pop songs, musicals and soundtracks, including the film Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts, the applauded HBO series Mildred Pierce starring Kate Winslet, and the Koreanovela Ju-mong.
The net proceeds of her Manila performance will be coursed through the Tanging Yaman Foundation of Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J. of the Ateneo de Manila University to reach the communities devastated by Yolanda. The United Nations Children’s Fund’s Margaret Sheehan received Sumi Jo’s donation.