Lim Hyung-joo, popera sensation

An article from the Korea Times which I’m posting in full as it seems to have disappeared off their website.

Popera Star Lim Sings Colors of Korea in New Album ‘Lotus’
by Han Eun-jung
Korea Times, 11 October 2005

Lim Hyung-jooLittle was known of the boy who walked on stage to deliver the national anthem at President Roh Moo-hyun’s inauguration ceremony two and a half years ago. But by the time he stepped down, the country knew that a star had been born.

Since then, Lim Hyung-joo, 20, has completed his studies at Julliard and gone on to the Academia San Felice in Florence, Italy. In the meantime, his career has taken off, with the release of three studio albums and one concert album. His most recent was “Misty Moon,” the nation’s best-selling classical album in 2004. Last year, he took his 2003 sensation “Salley Garden” album to neighboring Japan and easily topped the classical and crossover category of the Oricon Chart.

Now “The Lotus,” his fourth offering, hits record stores Oct. 17. Embracing everything from classical pieces to pop numbers to traditional Korean songs, Lim gives each of the 10 tracks featured on the album an operatic touch with his signature clear and ringing vocals.

As to why Lim chose to name his album after the flower, he explained that the lotus represents the colors of Korea as does his music.

“I am Korean yet I sing ‘popera,’ a genre indigenous to the West,” Lim said when he met with the media last week at a hotel in Seoul. “I recorded this album reliving the sensation that I took from the audience when singing kagok (Korean classical songs) at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. I feel the very first Korean-style popera has come to be,”

“There is the song ‘Yonin (Lovers),’ which combines the sounds of taepyongso (horn), taegum (woodwind) and haegum (a two-stringed fiddle) and that of the Czech Symphony Orchestra to create the Korean tradition scale.”
Also included on the album is folk artist Yang Hee-eun’s “Hankyeryong”; “Komiui Sup,” a translation of a song originally by Taiwanese singer Faye Wong; and Melanie Safka’s “The Saddest Thing.”

“All of these songs I sang in my own style,” he said.

Aside from the traditional Korean songs and pop numbers, about 30 percent of the featured numbers are classical, Lim said.

“‘The Mad Scene’ from the opera ‘Lucia Di Lammermoor’ was often sung by my favorite soprano Maria Callas,” he said. “I understand that this is the first recording done by a male singer.”

This album also happens to his first album since his move from Sony to Japanese AVEX’s classical label Casa.

“Sony has many other singers besides me. I was approached by many big name labels but AVEX’s PR plan impressed me the most,” he said.

“This year is the second year since I’ve debuted in Japan and I plan on holding a solo concert there sometime next year.”

Asked about how he would promote his album here, Lim said he plans to embark on a tour that will take him to nine cities across the country. The Seoul leg of the upcoming run is scheduled for Dec. 3 at Kyung Hee University’s Grand Auditorium where he will perform with a 20-member chamber orchestra, a 16-member big band and two dancing troupes.

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