Last evening, I had the privilege of attending a concert put on by the Romanian embassy in Korea and the Korean Foundation. The violinist, Alexandru Tomescu, put on a superb performance. Everyone around me was whispering because the Stradivarius violin he was using cost four million dollars, and it sounded like four million dollars in his hands too! I heard comments from people who really didn’t understand how a violin could cost that much wondering why he didn’t just sell the violin if it was so expensive, use the money to live off and use a different violin in the concerts. However, I read the program, and it is not Alexandru Tomescu’s violin. It belongs to the government of Romania. They wanted it to be heard and not just collect dust, so they put it in the hands of the most popular violinist in Romania, Alexandru Tomescu.
Alexandru Tomescu not only has been giving concerts in Romania, but all over the world in the most sought after concert halls in places like Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Theater des Champs-Elyees in France, the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Royal Concertgbouw in Amsterdam, etc. The violin even has a name, Elder-Voicu. His project “Stradivarius Inernational Tour” has become one of the most popular classical music events in Romania, and he was very popular last night!
He began the concert by speaking in Korean. I was impressed by his Korean, and everyone in the room was. My daughter is a bit of an expert, and she said, “He spoke well, but he needed a little help with his verbs.” However, for someone who doesn’t live in Korea, and knowing how hard the Korean language is, I was very impressed. My Romanian friend who has been in Korea as long as I have and is married to a Korean was sitting next to me and she said, “Wow! He speaks Korean better than I do!” Romanians are a language people. They try to learn everyone’s language. However, English is easier for them, so after his initial speech in Korean, he switched to English until the very end of the concert when he spoke in Korean again.
Here is a sample of what he did, but the recording can’t really give justice to hearing it in person.
There was actually nothing in Romanian. Even the program was in English and Korean. The Romanian ambassador also gave a speech in English. He did a good job, but also had trouble with verbs in English. He has been here a couple of years now, and it isn’t surprising if he doesn’t speak Korean yet. The American government classifies Korean as the second hardest language in the world for English speakers, and Romanian is a European language too, so an oriental language language would be more of a challenge for them like it is for an English speaker. I met this Romanian ambassador at the Romanian National Day celebration, but he didn’t remember me. This is not the ambassador who came out of the embassy and sat in the yard talking to me for a long time quizzing me about what I knew about Romanians in Korea. The Romanian Consulate who is an extremely friendly, nice guy wasn’t there. I have been to concerts where he attended before, and he is a funny, noisy part of the audience because he is so enthusiastic.
Last night, there were two encores. When they called for an encore, I began looking around wondering if the Romanian consulate was there because that is that kind of thing he does, but he wasn’t there. Alexandru Tomescu seemed to enjoy the encores. That is when he spoke in Korean again. Before the first one, he said in Korean that that would be the last song. Before the second encore, he said in Korean, “This is TRULY the last song!” He let everyone know that there were CD’s for sale outside in the lobby if they wanted to listen more.
After the concert, he was in the lobby to greet the guests. The people acted like groupies crowding around him trying to get his autograph and get their picture taken with him. If you wanted to shake his hand and tell him he did a good job, it wasn’t really possible unless you were a bit pushy. My Romanian friend wanted his autograph, and the Koreans were true to form and they were pushing trying to get to talk to him first. (They don’t just try to get there first in cars, but in everything.) She almost gave up, but I saw what was happening to her, and I urged her to just step up and not put up with people jumping in front of her, and she finally did. After that, she pulled me in and wanted me to have my picture taken with Alexandru Tomescu too.
All in all, it was a great concert! Even people who don’t normally listen to classical music would have enjoyed it. He played masterpieces by people like Bach, Paganni (an Italian composter), Yun Isang (a Korean composer), and Enescu (a Romanian composter). Alexandru Tomescu did something that is completely difficult with ease. He is truly an artist! My daughter said she isn’t a classical music fan, but even she enjoyed the concert. Alexandru Tomescu showed everyone the value of that expensive Stradivarius violin by the way he played.