SINGAPORE – Imagine an eclectic mix of Chinese traditional instruments, some Western orchestra instruments, drums and even electric guitars performing K-pop tunes arranged to accommodate the different instruments? For the skeptics who cannot even conceive how these can go well together, there have been many attempts to marry the sounds of traditional instruments and their modern counterparts.
For those who have been exposed to this unique mixture of instruments through Korean drama Heartstrings (starring Jung Yong Hwa as a guitarist and Park Shin Hye as the female protagonist who plays the gayageum-a Korean traditional instrument), or seen the recent live performance of AOA’s Get Out featuring Mina, this risky and meticulously crafted pair-up can either be a success, or downright painful to the ears, lest to say undermining the traditional instruments, who often cannot be heard due to the nature of modern instruments to be louder and more easily heard by the audience. Nanyang Polytechnic Chinese Orchestra (NYPCO), however, proved their mettle with their concert K-ATTACK II, held on the 3rd of November, 2012, at the Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore.
The first section began with a majestic rendition of IU’s You and I, then continued with melancholic tunes like SISTAR’s Alone and 2AM’s I Wonder if You Hurt Like Me, and finishing with CNBLUE‘s Hey You. A percussion-only performance of BoA’s Only One, KARA’s Pandora and 2NE1’s I Love You, a song that shook the K-pop industry with its distinctly un-Kpop-like-sound, NYPCO performed songs across a range of genres, exploring diverse repertoires even under the K-pop umbrella itself.
Performing T-ara’s Lovey Dovey, SHINee’s Sherlock, SNSD’s Paparazzi and Huh Gak’s It Hurts and even the then yet-to-be-officially-released 2PM’s Masquerade in the second segment, NYPCO showcased their ability by covering recent and popular songs. The Sherlock performance was exceptional, made complete with the chants of “SHINee’s back, SHINee’s back” by the orchestra members. Fast numbers like Lovey Dovey and Paparazzi were no easy feat either, but the orchestra seemed to have fun even whilst having to deal with the huge number of notes. NYPCO ended the second segment by bringing the house down with an expected performance of the song that has been taking the world by storm-PSY’s Gangnam Style.
From a PSY doppelganger, sunglasses, the cheesy horse-dance, orchestra members dancing to Gangnam Style with style, to a girl member standing up and saying “Oppa, Gangnam Style” in a cute voice, NYPCO put in much effort to ensure that the audience would enjoy this particular song.
More great songs, for example, DBSK’s Keep Your Head Down, followed in the third section. The last song was most memorable, as it was not a single song, but a seamless mash-up comprising BIG BANG’s Fantastic Baby, Blue, Monster and Love Song. For the encore, the maestro apologized for not being able to play more songs, and to make up for that, the orchestra would “play one last song with at least ten songs”, and among these songs were SNSD’s The Boys and Mr Taxi, 2PM’s Put Your Hands Up, T-ara’s Cry Cry, F.T. Island’s Hello Hello, CNBLUE’s I’m A Loner, KARA’s Mister, BIG BANG’s Tonight, 4Minute’s Heart to Heart, B2ST’s Fiction, SNSD Taeyeon’s Can You Hear Me, U-Kiss’ 0330, and many more.
Songs that were most spectacularly delivered and which stood out in their powerful and accurate delivery and conveyance of the emotions were later revealed to be the songs arranged by one of its members. Displaying superb skills in blending the sounds of the different types of instruments, as well as in arranging pop songs for traditional instruments, this laudable accomplishment has not only depicted how the NYPCO is not only just a place for students to improve their craft, but also to try their hand at challenging the abilities of the instruments in terms of the songs they are usually associated to and deemed fit to perform. Although there is an absence of an overarching theme to the whole concert and thus the songs did not contribute to the whole flow of the concert-flitting from light-hearted songs to groovy songs and to emotional songs-, both orchestra and audience enjoyed themselves tremendously.
What makes K-ATTACK II a refreshing performance is that they pay homage to the music preferences of today through their traditional instruments . Having come a long way since being formed in 2009, the orchestra has grown from a mere 45 members to the current 155 members under the helm of conductor Mike Chiang. Majority of the friends who turned out to support members of the orchestra were evidently K-pop fans rather than fans of the traditional instruments. However, this concert merged the traditional with the modern, and even though the creation of this new sound inevitably eradicates a little the beauty of both the traditional and the modern, it is testimony to a brave new vision which the NYPCO has embraced to keep the Chinese instruments relevant in today’s society.
If you , the K-pop lover, want to wave light-sticks to your favorite songs with like-minded friends but cannot afford the skyrocketing prices of tickets to see your idols, why not look forward to next year’s concert by NYPCO? Besides being treated to a performance full of laughs while learning to appreciate music produced by a Chinese orchestra, this is one concert where you definitely can experience that wordless sense of contentment derived just from listening to music-it will be an attack (or K-ATTACK) on your senses!
Event covered by Adrian@hellokpop and Yunting@hellokpop
On Saturday, 18 October 2012, hellokpop had the privilege to attend KCON 2012, at the Verizon Ampitheatre in Irvine, California.
KCON 2012 was the first North American convention about everything Korean: the food, the make-up (BB Cream anyone?), the culture, and of course, the Hallyu wave. There were a variety of booths for many different vendors, such as make-up booths, an Asiana Airlines booth, fan club booths (DBSKnights, Code EXO, Soshified, etc.), a CGV cinemas booth, and many more.
The majority of my time was spent in the Artist booth, where VIXX, NU’EST, B.A.P, EXO-M, G.Na, and 4Minute held their autograph and Q & A sessions. The first group to hold their signing and Q&A was NU’EST. They were as cute as we see them in photos and videos. NU’EST is a five-member group, made up of Aron, JR, Baekho, Minhyun, and Ren. One of the members, Aron, is from Los Angeles, so he spoke about how happy he was to be back in California. The artists answered some questions and then were whisked away to rehearse for the concert later that day. The fans were cleared out of the tent, and then the waiting for the VIXX autograph session began.
VIXX is a six-member group, made up of N, Leo, Ken, Ravi, HongBin and Hyuk. At 12:10 PM, the VIXX autograph session along with the Q&A commenced! During VIXX’s autograph session, their music was playing, so during some intervals, some of the members got up and did the choreography to their songs. VIXX did something different than the rest of the artists, they got actually sang Rock Your Body live, and did the choreography to it as well. Ravi spoke the most English out of the VIXX members, which made the K-Pop fan girls and some fan boys scream even louder than usual. The leader of VIXX, N, did a bit of aegyo, which led to his members face-palming and head-desking. Then like all of the other artists, VIXX was whisked away to rehearsal.
The next group that held a fan-signing was B.A.P, a six-member group made up of Bang Yongguk, Zelo, Him chan, Jongup, Daehyun, and Young Jae. The B.A.P fan-signing and Q&A was held a bit later than scheduled, because there were too many people crowding the Artist Tent. There were lots of Baby’s in attendance during this fan-signing, and the day was really hot. So, the boys of B.A.P had KCON volunteers fanning them from behind.
The next artist to hold her autograph session and Q & A was G.Na which I did not manage to attend because I was looking for the illusive EXO-M vouchers. I was very unsuccessful. The biggest problem with KCON was perhaps the voucher system, which everyone I spoke to agreed. In order to get the KCON artist(s) to sign their official merchandise, one needed to have a voucher. Many people (at least the ones that I spoke with) really wanted the EXO-M vouchers, or the B.A.P vouchers, but the vouchers were given out randomly, and only about 100 people were allowed vouchers for each artist-signing event. So, only approximately 600 people received vouchers and were allowed to attend the signing events, which left a lot of people out of the process. Also, some people ended up not even using the vouchers they received, because they weren’t fans of those artists. Some suggested that in the future, perhaps KCON could consider something like a raffle, or even a voucher exchange, so that fans could exchange vouchers they didn’t want to use for vouchers they actually wanted. Nevertheless, it was already an amazing opportunity where the fans could actually get up close to their favorite artistes!
Crowd control was another little issue that caused some minor discomfort to the fans. At 3:30 PM, EXO-M was scheduled to hold their autograph and Q & A session. Their fan-signing was super crazy though, because the people from G.Na’s prior fan-signing couldn’t leave the tent due to the large number of EXO-M fans outside of the tent. The emcee asked EXO-M fans to step back multiple times, but few fans responded until Kris got the microphone and asked all of the fans to take a few steps back.
The screams for EXO-M exceeded all of the previous autograph sessions. All six of the members, Kris, Lay, Lu Han, Xiumin, Chen and Tao, looked surprised that so many of their fans had shown up. During the Q & A, Kris spoke in English, Lay spoke a bit in Chinese, and Kris looked surprised when there was cheering. Kris asked the audience:
“You guys can understand Chinese?”
To which many of the fans replied:
Lay did a heart sign in the middle of the autograph signing, and all of the fans cheered. After EXO-M had their fan-signing, it was discovered that one of the metal barricade poles had been broken, due to so many fans pushing and shoving. The 4Minute autograph and Q & A started at 5:00 PM, but it was already crowded even before it began!
After all of the Q &As were finished, there were still about 2 hours until the actual concert was to begin. I met up with a few of my friends who, as it turned out, had won the Kollaboration portion of KCON, which meant that they would be performing onstage during the concert.
By 5:30 PM, people were already waiting in front of the concert venue, for the gates to open, so that they could rest their tired feet for a bit and then dance the night away to awesome acts. At 7:00 PM, the gates opened and people rushed in and at 7:30 PM, the concert officially started, with a two-song performance by AJ Rafael, and a performance by Dumbfoundead. KCON concert-goers were surprised with a special collaboration effort between Daze47, which is a Korean Electronic Dance Music Group, and the winners of Korea’s Got Talent; a duo that are experts at ‘pop’ dancing.
After the opening acts, it was time for the concert to start! B.A.P opened with No Mercy, followed by What My Heart Tells Me to Do and Crash. It was cute, because after No Mercy, they apologized and said that the other songs that they were performing were not as active as No Mercy. G.Na was next, and she performed 2Hot, the English version of I’ll Back Off so You Can Live Better, and lastly, Black and White. After her performance, she emceed the rest of the KCON concert with Danny from 1TYM or Im Taebin.
VIXX was next with Rock Your Body, U, and Super Hero. NU’EST played Face, Not Over You, and Action. There was a little break in between, where the Kollaboration contest winners at KCON, Andy Le, Brian Le, and Geran Simpson put on a show with their masterful use of tricking and wushu. After the Kollaboration winners performed, EXO-M started off with History, and then performed Angel, What is Love and finally Mama. The last, but certainly not the least, 4Minute, performed Volume Up, Mirror Mirror, HuH, Heart to Heart, and lastly, Hot Issue.
Check out the photos of the event below:
KCON was truly a wonderful one-of-the-kind event that a K-pop fan would want so much badly to attend. All attendees would have agree that they are sure looking forward to more KCON events in the coming years!
Special thanks to MNET for giving hellokpop the opportunity to cover KCON 2012.
Event covered by Carolyn@hellokpop
Photos edited by Seckvoon@hellokpop