When the Romanians have a party, they really know how to do it up right! I was invited to a party last evening put on by the Romanian embassy in Korea. It actually had two different parts, and there is so much to share I have decided to split it up into more than one blog. This first blog will be about the jazz concert.
The jazz concert was held over in Yongsan-gu. If you have read my other blogs, it was in a government building close to Itaewon, the place I told you all foreigners in Korea eventually end up where I also blogged about all the different Halloween decorations. It began at 6:00 last evening on November 29th. We were a little late because of traffic, but that is normal in Korea. The concert had barely begun when we got there, and the Korean ushers showed us to our seats.
We were seated on the same row with a very noisy Romanian guy who was dressed in a Romanian costume. (On the invitation I was sent, it said to come dressed in a Romanian national costume or business dress, and he went for the Romanian national costume.) Everyone was having a blast, and that guy was really letting everyone know how much fun he was having, and come to find out, he was the Romanian consulate! As I said, Romanians really know how to have fun!
The name of the band was Adrian Naiden Quartet. The fist song I heard was called “Moiritia” (With a comma attached to the bottom of the “t” and pronounced (mee- or-eetsa)), Miorita is the name of a little lamb. Miorita is the Romanian national poem. Any time a Romania word has “ita” (itsa) on the end of a word, it is a diminutive making it small. They had taken the Romanian national poem and put it to jazz music. I have learned that the videos look like they are on their side, but when you listen to them, they turn right side up.
Besides the fact that the music was great, one of the things that made the concert so great was the guy sitting in front at the cello. He was joking and trying to relate to the audience. He couldn’t speak Korean, but was very conscious of the fact that he was in Korea. He didn’t speak Romanian to us either, but tried to speak English, and his English was quite funny. It made his jokes even funnier. My Romanian friend sitting next to me kept saying, “He needs some English lessons!” However, his crazy way of phrasing things and his Romanian pronunciation of English was part of his charm. He kept trying to give explanations for the songs they were singing, and he was funny. He actually looked a lot like the man who taught me to speak Romanian. Come to find out, when I spoke to the leader of the group after the concert, he was from Sibiu, where I lived in Romania.
At one point, the group decided to do Arirang, When I first got to Korea, I used to watch a television station called Arirang, and I had heard the song. It is a song that is close to every Korean’s heart. The guy sitting in front did just fine when he sang it, but you could see he was reading it off a paper on the floor. It was a new song to him, but the audience responded wonderfully when they did Arirang and sang along with him. At the end, when they had a standing ovation and insisted that the group come out and sing and play some more, they called a Korean woman up on stage to sing Arirang for them while they played the instruments. They had only come to Korea a couple of days ago and were leaving the next day, so there was no way they could know how to sing Arirang without looking at a piece of paper unless they had been given the words a long time before. The loud voice you can hear yelling “Bravo!” in this video is the Romanian consulate.
One of the great things the group did was they did an old Romanian dance song. The Romanians love to dance, and there was a folk dance that went along with the song.. When they do the dance, they all get in a circle and start really slow, and get faster, and then faster, and faster. They weren’t dancing, but the audience was singing along with group again, and they began at a snail’s pace and then sang faster and faster and faster. The name of the song was “Ciuleandra” (pronounced chewle-andra). The crowd was clapping and everyone was participating and having a great time! The Romanians really know how to have a good time, and this group did a great job leading them in their great time!
I have several of their songs recorded, and I am hoping the recordings come out well for you to watch and listen to. I couldn’t record them all, and some of them wouldn’t upload to the site, but you got to see the essence of the concert. My Romanian friend made many more recordings than I did, and some of hers were quite long. This concert was really well worth going across Seoul and getting stuck in traffic for! It made me miss Romania and its robust, happy culture! As I am writing this blog, I am looking at the videos to try to remember which one is which, and I am enjoying the videos so much they make me smile and I want to listen and watch rather than blog. That is how good this concert was!