Joo Wan Kim He began the concert sitting in front of the piano, leading his fingers with ease and precision from one measure to the next. The usual for any experienced pianist. But soon the unusual thing happened: the musician sat up to, with his hands, give energetic instructions to the young instrumentalists of Young Leaders Orchestra of León. And that’s how the rest of the concert went: with a pianist who, radiant with passion for his compositions, couldn’t stay still.
Kim (musical director, pianist), Unity Lewis (MC), Yung Phil (dancer), Lyman Jerome (drummer) and Christopher Nicholas (executive director), ensemble members Mik Nawoojarrived on the stage of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas as one of the musical acts of the 51st edition of the International Cervantino Festival. And for their first time in Guanajuato they added the talent of the Mexican soprano Carolina Herrera and the Orchestra.
After two pieces and Unity’s shout that generated an ovation – “Guanajuato, how are you? Viva México” – the declaration of intentions of what was happening on the Cervantes stage was already evident: a challenge to the dogmas of classical music and hip hop.
This was most noticeable when the pianist took the microphone to introduce three songs, “deconstructions on Mozart, Beethoven and Bach”; For example, the structure of The Marriage of Figaro seasoned with the MC’s verses and guided by the drummer’s cadence when hitting the bass drum and the snare.
The musical director explained that he composed them during the pandemic in order to “feel better”, so at the end of each one he included “moments designed to make them feel that way”: the appearance of Yung Phil on stage with taciturn choreographies – full backslide, a step popularized (and renamed) by Michael Jackson as Moonwalk – which even caught the attention of those who were passing by on the street parallel to the Alhóndiga.
The deconstruction of the classics generated applause, but the night was still young and surprises were missing. Another came very soon: “Do you know trap?”, asked Kim – complete owner of the microphone between songs –, to which the younger ones responded affirmatively. Immediately afterwards, the ensemble released a piece with this rhythm as a base, but full of violins.
For almost an hour and a half, Mik Nawooj unified music that many of those present at the Cervantes night conceived as distant. Special mention to Unity’s lyrics, which were about discrimination, unity and basic human rights. Also to Carolina Herrera, a national soprano who with occasional solos showed that her path is ascending.
AND at all times, Kim, stopping from the stage to give directions, speak, pick up his sheet music… Showing what it means to live art with passion.