Tongyeong International Music Festival

Tongyeong International Music Festival

Official Logo for TIMF-Tongyeong International Music Festival
Genre Classical music
Dates Spring
Location(s) South Korea Tongyeong, South Korea
Years active 2002present
Tongyeong International Music Festival
Revised Romanization Tongyeonggukjaeakjae
McCune–Reischauer T'ongyŏngkukcheŭimakche

Tongyeong International Music Festival (Korean: 통영국제음악제), abbreviated TIMF, is an annual music festival held in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. Considering the classification between ethnic and artistic categories, TIMF may be classified into one of Korea's leading arts and music festivals which is specialized in western music, i.e. with a variety of style and genre, such as contemporary, early(baroque), classical, romantic, traditional, symphonic, chamber or ensemble, operatic or music theater. In spite of its various appetite for genre, TIMF is usually known as being strong in contemporary program of western style music.[1]


The origin of this festival results from the spirit to commemorate Isang Yun(윤이상; 1917~1995), a world-renowned composer who was born in Tongyeong and lived the latter part of life in Berlin, Germany. Tongyeong is his birthplace and also a city where Yun settled down and took the first job of teaching at high schools. At 39, Yun moved to Europe to study, and settled down in Berlin University of the Arts, Germany. As a full-time professor, he educated so many young artists whether they are composers or players, and many of his disciples were Koreans or from Korea.

Isang Yun's Korean disciples were the ones that led TIMF project to be feasible. They first sought for sponsorship from the municipal government in order to present an introductory concert titled as 'Night of Isang Yun's Music'. This singular concert was held in 1999 and found itself to be successful thanks to hails of so many Korean artists.

The disciples were encouraged by this success, and they tried to develop it into Tongyeong Contemporary Music Festival. This Festival is now recognized as an archetype of TIMF's current format, and on its threshold, it was a reformatory challenge to extend a singular concert to a form of a three-days festival.

This Festival is very similar to 'the prerent' TIMF in the following features.

a. It was organized in a perfect form of a festival, as being held for three consecutive days.

b. Each different concert presented each different content in program, style and instrumentation.

c. Consistency was met in content programming, as the Festival set its own theme.

2 years of experiments in the form of festival made it clear that the content of western music could be cooperatively coexistent with Tongyeong's environments. The opinions arose among the populace that the Festival should be developed into an international format.

But the initiators did not make haste. Their next step was to establish an independent entity of a foundation. This action was necessary because the activity of hosting a festival should be politically neutral and cannot be disturbed by politicians or governments. The initiators formed the Board of Directors being helped by the provincial and the municipal governments, and the Board determined the initiative proposals to constitute a foundation and elect Seong-Yawng Park(1932~2005) as the first Chairman of TIMF Foundation. The Foundation was established and registered in February 2002.

TIMF 2002, the first edition of a new 'international' format, was presented by this new legal entity through organizational forces caused by the Board, the Managing Committee and the Administration Office. Based upon the past 2 years' experiences, the programmers of the Secretariat constituted Tongyeong International Music Festival 2002, for 8 consecutive days in March.

The programmers kept deciding a new theme for each year. The theme was always derived from a subtitle of Isang Yun's works. Although there always arose a need to construct a new concert hall, Tongyeong Arts Center with Main Hall (880 seats) and Small Hall (290 seats), was always the official venue. The following is the prospectus of Tongyeong International Music Festival since its first edition up to now.


Year Theme Dates
TIMF 2002 Fanfare & Memorial March 8 to March 15
TIMF 2003 Dream March 25 to April 2
TIMF 2004 Espace March 22 to March 27, June 20, August 30, December 12
TIMF 2005 Memory March 17 to March 22, July 3 to July 8, October 28 to November 6
TIMF 2006 Flux March 21 to March 26, October 27 to November 6
TIMF 2007 Rencontre March 23 to March 29, July 2 to July 7, October 26 to November 4
TIMF 2008 Freiheit March 21 to March 26, November 1 to November 9
TIMF 2009 East & West March 27 to April 2, June 29 to July 4, November 14 to November 22
TIMF 2010 Music + March 19 to March 25
TIMF 2011 Moving Dimension March 26 to April 1
TIMF 2012 Without Distance March 23 to March 29
TIMF 2013 Free & Lonely March 22 to March 28


The uniqueness in contemporary programming results from its spiritual motto that encourages programmers to commemorate and inherit creative minds of Isang Yun, a Korean composer born in Tongyeong. As Isang Yun was helped and discovered by European sponsors when in the past he endeavored to research abroad, TIMF finds it as an organizational mission to discover many other young composers who may succeed to Isang Yun's legacy. From this reason, TIMF's programmers do make it usual commission new works to young composers with brilliant creativity.

Since Asia is still regarded upon as the periphery of music society, TIMF's discoveries are mainly focused on Asian composers. The following is the selected list of Asian composers whom TIMF has proudly found over the last decade by setting their own repertoire on stage.

Toru Takemitsu (Japan; 1930~1996)
Sukhi Kang (Korea; 1934~)
Chung-Gil Kim (Korea; 1934~)
Byung-dong Paik (Korea; 1936~)
Younghi Pagh-Paan (Korea; 1945~)
Qigang Chen (China; 1951~)
Qu Xiao-Song (China' 1952~)
Ih Kangyul (Korea; 1953~2004)
Toshio Hosokawa (Japan; 1955~)
Tan Dun (China; 1957~)
June Hee Lim (Korea; 1959~)
Unsuk Chin (Korea; 1961~)
Uzong Choe (Korea; 1968~)
Nam-kuk Kim (Korea; 1971~)
Sungji Hong (Korea; 1973~)

Let alone Asian composers, TIMF has also presented many outstanding contemporary works written by 20th century's composers. If the concept 'contemporary' may be defined as a reformative attempt towards new forms, a variety of works and composers can be introduced. TIMF has set up its own programming policy to honor contemporary era by finding the beauty of the works and introducing it to new and young audiences. The following is the result of the efforts made to do the finding.

Leoš Janáček (Czech; 1854~1928)
Edward Elgar (England; 1857~1934)
Isaac Albéniz (Spain; 1860~1909)
Gustav Mahler (Austria; 1860~1911)
Claude Debussy (France; 1862~1918)
Richard Strauss (Germany; 1864~1949)
Alexander Scriabin (Russia; 1872~1915)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (England; 1872~1958)
Sergei Rachmaninoff (Russia; 1873~1943)
Arnold Schoenberg (Austria; 1874~1951)
Charles Ives (America; 1874~1954)
Maurice Ravel (France; 1875~1937)
Manuel de Falla (Spain; 1876~1946)
Béla Bartók (Hungary; 1881~1945)
Karol Szymanowski (Poland; 1882~1937)
Zoltán Kodály (Hungary; 1882~1967)
Anton Webern (Austria; 1883~1945)
Edgard Varèse (France; 1883~1965)
Alban Berg (Austria; 1885~1935)
Heitor Villa-Lobos (Brazil; 1887~1959)
Bohuslav Martinu (Czech; 1890~1959)
Sergei Prokofiev (Russia; 1891~1953)
Darius Milhaud (France; 1892~1974)
Paul Hindemith (Germany; 1895~1963)
Francis Poulenc (France; 1899~1963)
Luigi Dallapiccola (Italy; 1904~1975)
Andre Jolivet (France; 1905~1974)
Giacinto Scelsi (Italy; 1905~1988)
Dmitri Shostakovich (Russia; 1906~1975)
Olivier Messiaen (France; 1908~1992)
Elliott Carter (America; 1908~2012)
Samuel Barber (America; 1910~1981)
John Cage (America; 1912~1992)
Benjamin Britten (England; 1913~1976)
Witold Lutosławski (Poland; 1913~1994)
Alberto Ginastera (Argentina; 1916~1983)
Henri Dutilleux (France; 1916~)
Ástor Piazzolla (Argentina; 1921~1992)
Iannis Xenakis (Greece; 1922~2001)
György Ligeti (Hungary; 1923~2006)
Luigi Nono (Italy; 1924~1990)
Luciano Berio (Italy; 1925~2003)
Pierre Boulez (France; 1925~)
György Kurtág (Hungary; 1926~)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (Germany; 1928~2007)
Mauricio Kagel (Germany; 1931~2008)
Sofia Gubaidulina (Russia; 1931~)
Krzysztof Penderecki (Poland; 1933~)
Alfred Schnittke (Russia; 1934~1998)
Arvo Pärt (Estonia; 1935~)
Steve Reich (America; 1936~)
Heinz Holliger (Switzerland; 1939~)
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Azerbaijan; 1947~)
Salvatore Sciarrino (Italy; 1947~)
Wolfgang Rihm (Germany; 1952~)


As well as composers, TIMF has also presented outstanding musicians and performers. Its programming policy is concentratively set on presenting 2 categories of classical musicians; famed top stars or gifted top rookies. For this reason, TIMF's concert model is structured in a symmetrical compatibility between experimental performances to introduce young players and big-scale projects run by globally recognized orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists or operatic productions. The following shows the artists staged in TIMF's history complying with these 2 categories.

Young players introduced

Bartosz Koziak, Cello (2009)
Yunji Kang, Viola (2009)
Asian Festival Ensemble (2009)
KNUA String Ensemble with Solenne Paidassi, Violin (2008)
Narek Hakhnazaryan, Cello (2008)
Parker String Quartet (2008)
Sangah Nah, Flute (2008)
Ye-Eun Choi, Violin (2007)
Jun Mo Yang, Baritone (2007)
Julie Albers, Cello (2007)
Erin Keefe, Violin and So-Mang Jeagal, Piano (2007)
Young-Ah Tak, Piano (2006)
Jane Yoon, Harp (2006)
David DQ Lee, Countertenor (2006)
Bo-Kyoung Lee, Violin (2006)
Norie Takahashi, Piano (2006)
Sun-Wook Kim, Piano (2005)
Lin Yue, Violin (2005)
Kayagum Ensemble SAGYE (2005)
Boris Andrianov, Cello and Dimitri Illarionov, Guitar (2005)
Na-Young Baek, Cello (2004)
Matt Haimovitz, Cello (2004)

Globally recognized performing artists

Northern Sinfonia with Thomas Zehetmair, Conducting & Violin (2009)
Roby Lakatos, Gypsy Violin (2009)
Munich Chamber Orchestra with Alexander Liebreich, Conducting (2009, 2007)
Yeol-Eum Son, Piano (2008, 2005, 2002)
London Chamber Orchestra with Han-na Chang, Cello (2008)
Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi, Violin (2008)
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (2008)
John Holloway, Violin (2008)
HaeSun Paik, Piano (2008, 2004)
Jacques Loussier, Jazz Piano (2008)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra with Gianandrea Noseda, Conducting (2008)
Hilary Hahn, Violin (2008)
English Chamber Orchestra with Ralf Gothóni, Conducting (2007)
Jordi Savall, Viola da gamba (2007, 2005)
Kazuhito Yamashita, Guitar (2007)
Claude Bolling, Jazz Piano (2007)
Dong-Min Lim, Piano (2007)
Kronos Quartet with Wu Man, Pipa (2007)
St.Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Yuri Temirkanov, Conducting (2006)
Vladimir Feltsman, Piano (2006)
Richard Yongjae O'Neill, Viola (2006)
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra with Yuri Simonov, Conducting (2006)
Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra with Peter von Wienhardt, Piano (2005)
Arditti Quartet (2005)
Dong-Suk Kang, Violin (2005)
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Conducting with Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (2004)
Chung Trio (2004)
Mischa Maisky, Cello (2004)
Tan Dun, Conducting (2004)
Silesian String Quartet (2004)
The State Symphony Capella of Russia with Valeri Polyansky, Conducting (2004)
Rachel Lee, Violin (2004)
Natalie Clein, Cello (2004)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Zubin Mehta, Conducting (2003)
Sarah Chang, Violin (2003)
Sejong Soloists with Cho-Liang Lin, Violin (2003)
Heinz Holliger, Conducting & Oboe (2003)
Myung-whun Chung, Conducting with Philharmonique Orchestra de Radio France (2002)
Dong-Hyek Lim, Piano (2002)
Xenakis Ensemble (2002)

Vision: artistic director

On the verge of opening TIMF 2009, the Festival embraced a revolutionary brand-new phase of its history. TIMF Foundation, the managing body of the Festival and other related business branches, announced that TIMF would appoint a new artistic director, the position that had been left unfilled since the birth of the Festival. Alexander Liebreich, the primary conductor and artistic director of Munich Chamber Orchestra, was the main character of this new era. It is said that Alexander Liebreich will officially take office from TIMF 2011 but his researching activity towards a new way of TIMF programming has already begun.

Why would the Foundation need a new artistic director although they have managed to do without one for the last decade? - Three reasons have been found. First, long after the benchmarking research on other reputed festivals, the Foundation has realized that no reformation of planning inevitably leads any Festival to discourage itself into maintaining bargaining power in performing arts market and finally to be forgotten, lose sponsorship and disappear in the market. For an arts festival, the core competence in programming is said to work like the investment of seed money in manufacturing industry.

Second, although, within only a decade, TIMF has set its own positioning as a leading festival in Asia to present new trends of western music, it is truly certain that the necessity to prosper further abroad arises. As exemplified in the previous paragraph, TIMF has discovered so many young artists. However, a Korean or even Asian market is so narrow that the market capacity cannot technically hold all the discoveries. Considering that Asia is still the periphery of western music business, European and American markets should be conquered to allow young discoveries to expand their own possibilities. The programming dogma restricted in domestic market will soon find it so difficult to assume the mission to enlarge a scale of the market pie.

Third, Alexander Liebreich is such an active figure to make all the possibilities feasible. It is said that TIMF Foundation discovered Liebreich in 2007 when he came to Tongyeong to perform with Munich Chamber Orchestra. Liebreich was regarded on as one of the most aspiring conductors armed with visions and eagerness. In spite of his German-based musical career, Liebreich's aesthetic has long directed to depth of Asian culture. His career also reveals his fondness towards the Korean peninsula, as he joined several projects to perform with and educate both North and South Koreans. Munich Chamber Orchestra is one of the most frequent groups to perform Asian music, on which Liebreich played a significant role. Thus TIMF's need to prosper and Liebreich's aesthetic can successfully be matched.

For a couple of decades following, TIMF is expected to gain a bigger reputation coming across Alexander Liebreich. For a young music festival at only an age of ten, it must be truly fantastic to grow up with another 'growing-up' figure.

See also


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