WVPE’s Kent Fulmer – One on One with Maestro Soo Han of the Elkhart County Symphony

Jul 9, 2021

Soo Han
Credit Elkhart County Symphony

Kent Fulmer:  My guest today is Dr. Soo Han who is the…can we still say new…Musical Director of the Elkhart Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Han?

Soo Han:  Sure…it allows me a little bit more opportunities to mess up and be forgiven a bit more.

Kent Fulmer:  The orchestra is having their first public performance in quite some time, coming up this weekend, right?

Soo Han:   I’m incredibly excited. For me this is the very first full orchestra performance that I will participate in since the pandemic, so we’re really excited about that. 

Kent Fulmer:  I kind of hesitate to use the term concert because this is really more of a musical experience, isn’t it?

Soo Han:  Absolutely! The event will feature almost all of our musicians in small chamber ensembles scattered out throughout the (Wellfield) Botanical Gardens. And then also scattered timing wise, as well, performing in small chamber ensembles and then, at the very end, we will all come together and perform together as one large ensemble.

Kent Fulmer:  I love the name, Musical Origami: A Kaleidoscope of Music Art and Nature. 

Soo Han: Absolutely! It’s a homage… a honoring of the exhibit that’s happening at the botanical garden right now. The origami exhibit. We wanted to reflect some of the exhibits that are happening and some of the feelings and joy and emotions that are expressed through the exhibits and our performance and our music. 

Kent Fulmer: How is this going to be organized? You mentioned that small ensembles are going to play and then you’re going to play as a full group.

Soo Han: The evening starts at 4:00 Sunday afternoon and it features our wind quintet and then, every half hour, or so, different chamber ensembles will be performing at different places throughout the botanical garden. Then the big finale is at 6:00 when the Elkhart County Symphony Orchestra will be performing all together as one full orchestra.

Kent Fulmer: It’s a beautiful venue. Have you had a chance to take a look at the gardens yet?

Soo Han: I have not yet seen it. I’ve seen pictures online and it is beautiful, and I can’t wait to experience it myself.

Kent Fulmer:  When I look at the program for the orchestra, you certainly have a wide variety of music that you have scheduled.

Soo Han: Absolutely. We open up with Mozart’s Symphony No. 1. Paris Symphony just to express our joy and happiness for being back together and celebrating our time together. The program also features Arirang, which is one of the most important Korean folk tunes and, while origami originates and is rooted in Japan, it is still very much a part of Korean culture, as well and so we’ll be featuring Arirang and we’ll also be performing Country Gardens by Percy Grainger. We hope to capture the romance and the beauty of the gardens through our performance of Intermezzo and, at the very end, we’re going to play Jurassic Park in homage to all of the magnificent animals and objects that are found in nature throughout the botanical garden. 

Kent Fulmer: One of the things you kind of glossed over is that one of those is something you actually arranged, correct?

Soo Han: Absolutely. Arirang is a composition that I arranged for full orchestra and a string orchestra and we’re performing the full orchestra version. The orchestra sounds terrific and I’m honored that they are playing one of my arrangements. 

Kent Fulmer:  This is very exciting for you to get your tenure rolling with the orchestra. I know you had the streaming event back in the first part of the year…The Concert for Hope…but what’s it like for you to finally get in and prepare for a live concert…live music event like this?

Soo Han: Kent, I just can’t tell you how full our hearts are just being back together first and foremost. I love this orchestra. Not only are they incredible and artists but they’re incredible people and you can just sense the love and the pride that we have for one another and the respect that we have for one another. It was wonderful being together in the same room at yesterday’s rehearsal and then to be together and to make music is just something that we’ve missed for over a year. It defines who we are at our core. We’re just so happy and grateful and we can’t wait to share all these things with our audience on Sunday. 

Kent Fulmer:  It’s Musical Origami: A Kaleidoscope of Music, Art and Nature. This Sunday from 4:00 to 6:30. If someone is interested in getting tickets, they can go to https://www.elkhartsymphony.com and get some more information about that. Dr. Han, as always, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much for taking the time to be my guest here on 88.1 WVPE.

Soo Han: Thank you, Kent.