An “Out-of-the-Box” Experience at Arts Night

Justine Hong, Co-Editor-In-Chief

On Thursday Apr. 30 at 7:00 p.m., the audience was hushed and attentive as they awaited a performance yet to unfold on an illuminated circular stage. The school art community hosted Arts Night, a tribute to “out-of-the-box” thinking and a chance for MYP and DP art students to flaunt their artistic abilities.

When people talk about Arts Night, it’s impossible not to mention the unconventional stage. Surrounded on all four sides by the audience, the performers–both actors and musicians–presented under what seemed like an enormous golden spotlight. Not only did this striking stage add a certain whimsicality to the event, it also served practical purposes; I could see much better than if the actors had been on the real stage.

Theatre Production

Click to watch video of Noel Lee and Ryan Moon performing “Bittersweet!”

First to perform were juniors and DP Theatre Arts students Ryan Moon and Noel Lee with “Bittersweet,” a short play they’d written themselves. The play enacts a hilarious coincidental encounter between Aaron (Ryan) and Tiffany (Noel), former high school sweethearts. While Aaron recalls their dating days with fondness and yearning, Tiffany isn’t half as enthusiastic. A clear highlight of the play took place when Tiffany began listing all the girls with whom Aaron had cheated on her with, some of whom are actual names students, which added to the humor of the performance.

You can imagine the uproarious laughter that resulted; it continued till the play’s end where Tiffany was dragged offstage in a fit of rage.

Musical Performances

Click to watch Video of Deborah Buesing, Chris Cho- accompanied by Erina Sakamoto and Stephen Kil performing “Stay with Me!”

A particularly laudable musical performance was that of junior Ha Yoon Kim. She played Chopin’s “Waltz, Opus. 69 No. 2 in B-flat minor” (one of my favorites!). Though she seemed slightly nervous, an understandable emotion considering that she was the first music performer of the night, she still played considerably well. As a musician myself, I heard no mistakes. It was the smooth, pleasant playing of a Chopin masterpiece.

Yerim Kim and Loukas Kang were also memorable with their jazz rendition of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Piano duets are uncommon, but Yerim and Loukas seized this rare opportunity and made it highly enjoyable.

“We wanted to show something unique to the school,” Yerim explained. Even to her, “Pachelbel sounded interesting. It was jazzy and so cool.”

Indeed, their performance was fast and upbeat. They easily played a great rendition of a great piece, though their tempo was uncertain at times. “I think overall it was very good, except that it got fast at the very end. And that was kind of my fault because I was so excited, and I rushed. But overall, we were successful,” said Yerim.

Indeed, after the more somber “Sad Romance” of junior Samuel Lee, I could sense the excited energy surging through the audience with “Canon.”

Next, “Stay With Me” as sung by Deborah Buesing and Chris Cho, and accompanied on the piano by Erina Sakamoto and on the cajon by Stephen Kil was simply heart-rendering. Chris, who is renowned throughout the school for his honey voice, gave a touching performance as always, and Deborah’s voice was gentle, heartfelt, and soulful. Their harmonization was haunting and captivating with an ending that truly melted the audience’s hearts.

Click to watch the video of Gyeonggi Suwon International School (GSIS) Jazz band Performing to 'Sweet Home Chicago'
Click to watch the video of Gyeonggi Suwon International School (GSIS) Jazz band Performing to ‘Sweet Home Chicago’

What I found interesting, however, was that this heart-rendering harmonization was actually almost effortless. During practice, Deborah said, “We were just improvising and determining what fits with two voices.” But she was satisfied with the outcome. “I really liked the performance. Nobody made a mistake or anything.”

Finally, the Jazz Band’s rendition of “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington was also notable. One of my favorite Duke Ellington pieces, the song made me feel as if I were in New York, right in the middle of an old Woody Allen flick. The trumpet solo was great, the accompaniment appropriate and swingy.

Visual Art Gallery

From multicolored ants to starry paths, the visual arts gallery contained a diverse, stunning array of students’ artwork. And each work had a meaning and story behind it. Art teachers encouraged visitors to extract this story by asking the artist a series of questions regarding theme and inspiration.

“If I Were My Imagination” by Hanna Nam

“Anxiety,” junior Hanna Nam answered immediately when asked what her artwork’s theme was. “And other emotions,” she added quickly. Titled “If I Were My Imagination,” the work made use of digital photography and other mediums. She explained that it was “somewhat challenging” to take good photos of herself in different viewpoints. “The insects signify imagination,” she said. Her inspiration for coloring the insects differently was Rene Magritte’s “The Familiar Objects.”

Another notable artwork was “Constriction” by junior Suzy Lee. “The theme is how I’m being suffocated by social pressures and people telling me to be this or that. Those hands illustrate these social pressures, as in your parents are telling you to get good grades, or your relatives telling you to be a certain kind of person.”

Especially unique about Suzy’s artwork is that it seems three-dimensional depending on where you’re standing in comparison to the work. This 3-D effect is due to “ventricular printing, which is overlapping multiple images so it changes depending on your perspective.”

“Constriction” by Suzy Lee

But not all the art on display was ominous or imposing. Junior Kelly Lee’s art, “Journey,” spoke about her “journey to adulthood. You can see the path leading to a mysterious ending. It shows how my journey is being made to an unclear ending.”

“You can see that I’ve chosen to use the pastel brush technique,” she explained further. “That’s using the palette knife as my brush. These fragmented brush strokes represent a broken mirror. My background or setting is broken to emphasize the uncertainty of subjects that are being reflected back.”

Overall, the effort and the creative power demonstrated at this year’s Arts Night made for a rewarding, enjoyable experience. Actors bickering onstage, performers smoothly pressing piano keys, and artists avidly discussing their visual art truly made for an “out-of-the-box” event.