Regardless of a person’s own distinctive taste for music, most people would acknowledge that orchestral music has the ability to overwhelm the audience with its grandeur. Even in the nostalgic soundtracks of Disney movies or musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, harmonious melodies of an orchestra are inseparable; they never fail to elevate the atmosphere for plays. There is an orchestra here at Sungshin University as well. Consisting only of Sungshin students, the 245th edition of the Sungshin Mirror had the honor of capturing the bright passion for music of one and only amateur orchestra club ‘Crystal.’ Now, let us welcome Crystal to strike a chord with their crystal symphony.
Q1. Hello, we are very glad to have the opportunity to interview Sungshin’s amateur orchestra club Crystal. Please introduce your position and the instruments you play in the orchestra, and the club itself.
Park Jane (Department of Korean Language and Literature Class of 18) – Hello, I play the cello as the president of this orchestra. Crystal is the only amateur orchestra club at Sungshin where students from all different departments with various instruments gather to play as a group.
Howang Do Won (Department of Social Welfare Class of 20) – I am a co-vice-president of Crystal and I play the flute in this orchestra.
Han Seo Yeon (Department of Media & Communication Class of 19) – I am one of the members of Crystal and I am the only brass instrument player since I play the bass trombone.
Q2. Could you explain about the establishment of the club and the instruments that compose Crystal?
Crystal was founded four years ago as an official school club. We first came up with the idea of an orchestra where different people can play diverse instruments with joy. Now, the members of Crystal are joined by violins, flutes, a bass trombone, and a piano.
Q3. It must be hard to gather a number of people to harmonize together as a group. Have you ever experienced any difficulty during practices? How does Crystal overcome hardships?
Han Seo Yeon – I play the bass trombone, which usually creates a loud sound. I sometimes find it difficult to harmonize with other members’ instruments, as it requires a skillful ability to effortlessly control the volume of the trombone. So, I try to practice more to be able to more easily blend my sound with the others’.
Park Jane – As an orchestra is an arrangement where different instruments play collectively, it is difficult for an orchestral piece to be performed well if one only focuses on one’s own notes written in their score other than trying to know what other parts also sound like. Therefore, we endeavor to practice together and elaborately listen to other parts comprehensively as well as our own, and it works out for us to find our sound as a group. By carefully following the instructions of our conductor and working together, we conquer any hardship that comes our way.
Q4. Crystal’s non face-to-face online concerts uploaded on the official Crystal YouTube channel were very impressive to watch. Please explain how it was possible to successfully manage everything despite all the challenges.
Park Jane – In early 2020, we were actually preparing to hold an offline concert and even rented a venue where we would perform. But as COVID-19 pandemic hit so suddenly, we had to turn everything online, which caused a lot of confusion in the orchestra. But we were able to produce our concert videos by individually shooting videos to play their own parts and combining them altogether. I believe without the passion of every Crystal member despite the rough situation, the online concerts wouldn’t have succeeded. Although it might sound a little cliché, but the enthusiasm truly was the reason why we could make it happen and I can’t think of any other ways to say it.
Howang Do Won – During the recording, the metronome sound had to be excluded from the video, so we wore earphones to follow the conductor. We not only had to hear both the metronome and our own instrument at the same time but also were unable to hear the others play, so having to be apart surely came to us as a great challenge.
Q5. When Crystal recruits new members, what are the basic requirements for applicants, and what factors and requirements are considered to be important and prioritized?
Park Jane – There is actually a principle for the recruitment. It is that if an applicant who majors in music wishes to join our club, she will need to apply with a different instrument than the one they major in. This is because the foundation of Crystal aims for nothing else than the member’s genuine enjoyment in playing their instruments. When it comes to the instrument playing skills, however, is in fact less important since members of Crystal improve together through lots of ensemble practices. Thus, what we consider the most critical is applicants’ ardor for music and how much they wish to be a part of an orchestra.
Q6. Have you ever felt regret or relief with the instrument that you chose to play? Please share stories about the charms and drawbacks of your own instruments.
Park Jane – (Pointing at a large cello case standing next to her) As you can already guess by the size of this case, the cello is a big and heavy instrument. When I carry it around in places such as the subway during rush hour and the hills of the Soojung Campus, and when it takes much longer than other instruments to pack up after practices, I almost regret choosing to play the cello. Moreover, I am easily startled when someone unintentionally bumps into my cello because it is a wooden instrument. Nevertheless, the cello is the instrument which plays from the closest distance to the player’s heart. Also, its ability to perform both low and solo parts is very appealing and makes me want to continue playing it.
Howang Do Won – I believe the biggest charm of the flute is the clear fluty sound it creates. However, a lot of practice must go in for the flute to be played beautifully. Playing the flute requires strong abdominal muscles, lungs, and the ability to control the instrument.
Han Seo Yeon – The worst shortcoming of any wind instruments would be that the instrument player cannot eat anything except water or coffee during practice. It is necessary to brush our teeth before we get back to practice because saliva remaining within the instruments easily destroys the sound and the lifespan of them. With regard to bass trombone, one of the disadvantages is also the size and the weight of it. Sometimes when I have to carry both my laptop and my hefty brass instrument, my shoulder feels like it is collapsing. Nonetheless, no other instruments can replace the grand sound of a bass trombone.
Q7. If Crystal could be described in one word, what would it be?
Park Jane – I would say that the word is ‘purity.’ This is not only the way I think about the orchestra but also our conductor directly told us about it. He said that “it seems like the pure harmony Crystal creates is never bothered despite the fact that its members frequently change. I believe it is because everyone who joins Crystal doesn’t lose their genuine love for music.” This is why I chose the word purity to explain the characteristic of our club.
Howang Do Won – I also consider ‘diversity’ as another trait of Crystal. It is very meaningful that students from different majors play various instruments and jointly work to find a melody.
Q8. Are there any upcoming online or offline concerts that Crystal is preparing for?
Park Jane – Current plans call for a January 13th event next year. Although we hope to perform it as an offline concert, the plan could change depending on the COVID-19 situation.
Pure joy and happiness flowed through the fingers of Crystal musicians during the practice. Hoping to express the bright spirit of the club, they wish to embellish listeners’ life through their performances. Sometimes, music heals people better than any words can do. Crystal’s healing online concerts can be revisited through their official YouTube account (‘성신여대 아마추어 오케스트라 크리스탈’) and their Instagram page (@sswu_crysral).
By Cho Yoonji Reporter