Chapter 4: Sorrowfully 4
Seeing me binging through all the chocolate, Noh Jusup made a questioning expression.
“Aren’t you eating too much? Isn’t it hard to sing if you’re full?”
“I’m refilling my energy.”
Lee Suh-ah scoffed.
“Wasn’t it for protecting your throat?”
“Kukuk, that too.”
When I finished one container, it finally felt like my throat was being prepared – it gave off a feeling that it was coated cleanly. I was making an ‘ah ah’ sound when Han Dasom carefully met her eyes with mine.
“Yunjae will do well.”
Right, my other Chorus Busking duo, she was different from others and was a great friend. Giving a high five to the bashfully smiling Han Dasom, I turned my head.
I could see the firmly shut doors of the waiting room.
Right before the start of the Improvement Concert.
To wish me good luck, my group members came with me till here.
“I’ll go, play the accompaniment!”
With Chloe waving her hand as the last signal, we opened the doors wide.
The Future Hall waiting room. Maybe I was a bit late, but it was filled with a variety of students.
Girls wearing fancy dresses and boys with tuxedos on – perhaps it was due to this being their first performance, but I could see that they had put a lot of effort into their appearance. On top of makeup, they wore accessories that weren’t prohibited in the regulations. Fancy indeed.
When I walked deeper in, their eyes gathered.
“Didn’t it have to be a suit?”
“No there was a regulation that school uniforms were okay too.”
Chloe quickly hopped over and started a conversation.
[Yunjae! For you this is your first time on stage right? You said you were from a normal middle school.]
Stopping my feet, I thought for a bit.
Right, it indeed was, a first. It was the first time I was standing on an official stage with this body. Feeling the heart slowly speeding up, I gave a smile.
[But you look like you’re not nervous at all. Huhuh]
[I’m a human too, how wouldn’t I be nervous?]
Confessing that she too actually did not feel nervous on stage, Chloe smiled brightly before starting more conversations. The things that had happened in the piano department to today’s dinner – while I was listening to the unending topics, she suddenly brightened her eyes.
“Oh, Yunjae! It’s starting!”
With a glance towards the door, I saw a girl in a dress leave the room
Towards the stage.
The downfall of applause and slight sound of piano could be heard. While appreciating that sound, I looked around the waiting room and found a variety of situations – Song Mirae closing her eyes at a corner, a person wearing earphones, a person glaring daggers at the music sheet and some having a chatter with their friends.
After also seeing Chloe swinging her legs back and forth, I turned my head back.
I should get prepared as well.
Slowly closing my eyes, I started a simulation. Thinking of the musical notations on the song, I simulated how to sing, as well as the important parts and... set my emotions.
The noise from the hustle around slowly went further away.
Within opera singers, there was a saying that said that we must sing from our hearts. Well, it meant that emotions were that important, but, I think it’s similar to Pavlov’s dog. So it’s like setting up beforehand what kind of emotions would lead to which techniques.
Expressions to use when sad and expressions for happiness. By training these until the body remembered it all, just thinking of an emotion would automatically bring forth the following expressions.
Instead of always thinking about what I should do here and there, if the body could naturally express it, there would be way less pressure on singing after all.
Let’s analyse the feelings that must be felt from this song, [Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön]. Literally it meant that this painting was extremely beautiful... and this song starting off with such lyrics had a simple story.
A prince that did not know love was noticing such emotion by looking at a beautiful painting – an adolescent yet sorrowful song.
Tap, I felt a touch and opened my eyes to see Chloe giving a nod.
“Opera department Jo Yunjae. Please get prepared.”
My turn huh.
After blinking for a while, I slowly got up from the seat. Opening the door, a quiet creaking sound was heard as a dark corridor appeared. And in a faraway position, there were fierce spotlights hanging above.
One step at a time, I carried my feet and stood under it with the bright light embracing my body.
Closing my eyes, I relaxed under the baptism of light before slowly raising my head. Through the eyes that had gotten used to the surrounding light, people’s silhouettes filling the hall entered.
From the 300 seats of the hall, around... 200 seats were filled.
Their gazes pointing down were stabbing and poking at me. Expectant eyes, bored eyes, indifferent and apathetic eyes.
I had an urge.
The urge to fill those eyes with waves of emotion.
Only when a smile crept out and a proud nervousness filled me up to the chin, did it finally feel realistic.
Once again, I was back on stage.
Hong Yoojin was sitting down with a grumpy expression. Glancing at the name [Opera: Jo Yunjae] on the pamphlet, she gave a scoff.
She remembered the call she had received a few days ago. A call from Kwak Jungsoo after a long time.
That heavy voice.
‘Yunjae... Please take care of him.’
Hong Yoojin thought she was having a hallucination. During university days, he was so stubborn and straightforward that he had a fight with a lecturer – that Kwak Jungsoo was asking her for a favour like this!
She knew there were often stories about teachers asking the judges to look fondly on their disciples but she thought at least Kwak Jungsoo would be different.
Glaring up at the stage, she saw Jo Yunjae. He was walking up alongside an accompanist girl – was her name Chloe? Crossing her arms and glaring at them, Hong Yoojin clicked her tongue. Jo Yunjae; judging from how he lured a foreigner already despite being only a few weeks in, he was not someone with a normal mouth.
‘I’ll never let him get close to our Suh-ah.’
While she was making a vow and glaring at the stage, a whispering chatter from the teachers sitting nearby entered her ears.
“Finally, student Jo Yunjae.”
“Hah, from what I saw on the admission results, he wasn’t a very good singer...”
“Who knows if he has developed from back then?”
“How much would it get better after one month... Just send him over to the conducting department please.”
Throwing her glance there, she found some unexpected people. A conducting teacher who she only knew the face of and teacher Ku Mingi. Listening to their conversations, Hong Yoojin gave a nod and scoffed.
Right, Jo Yunjae.
Although he showed some interesting parts during the Chapel, his skills that had made him come in last during the admission wouldn’t have changed. That must be why he talked the innocent teacher Kwak Jungsoo into asking her for favour.
Let’s see how good you are.
When she clenched hard and glared at the stage, Chloe and Jo Yunjae stood on their positions.
In the midst of the spotlights.
After opening his closed eyes, Jo Yunjae was seen scanning through the audience, from the very left, to the very right. Gazing at the audience slowly as if he was counting the numbers, he made a bright smile – like he was about to go crazy from joy.
Hong Yoojin felt her eyebrows twitch.
She could not see any nervousness. Usually people standing on the stage for the first time would be wobbling like a jelly. Is he suited for stages? Her hand that was previously on top of the marking paper was moved away. Good, there was nothing to deduct in terms of the greeting.
But how was his singing?
After the greeting, a round of applause without a reason rang for a bit, before Chloe and Jo Yunjae looked at each other and nodded.
Slowly, the accompaniment started and Jo Yunjae opened his lips.
“Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön–...”
A whispering voice visited her ears. From the first sound, it slided down in a decrescendo, and then, a crescendo.
With eyes closed, it felt like someone was actually whispering in their ears. Jo Yunjae had resonated such a sound, and spread it throughout the hall.
Piano expression. Before that amazing dynamic, even Hong Yoojin was slightly impressed.
Starting off soft, was not an easy task. Especially for students that had not practised opera-like resonances for a long time, they struggled with soft expressions. It was because that was different to just screaming and was also different to just singing softly.
Utilising all the resonating chambers within the body and yet having to control the air pressure to soften up the sound.
This was the result.
It wasn’t just a soft sound that couldn’t even reach the first row, but a soft resonance that could fill the 300 seats of Future Hall.
Is that his take on expressing this love song properly?
Hong Yoojin gave a nod.
“Wie noch kein Auge je geseh’n...”
Of course, a soft sound was not everything to building emotions. The first sound was slightly tilted with the end sound being slightly higher and there was still a vibrato with a clean frequency.
His diction was good and pronunciation was clear. It was good to the point that it was hard to believe that he was a student.
The meaning behind each sentence was properly conveyed. Each word had a proper accent that it required, and separating the vowels and consonants, they respectively kept a constant resonance.
With this, one would reach legato, a level where they could sing like they were speaking. Hong Yoojin grinned and nodded her head.
‘This guy’s quite good.’
That thought was immediately broken by Jo Yunjae’s high note.
“Wie dies Gö-tterbild.”
A♭4 – Jo Yunjae was able to express that fairly high note without a single discomposure. Like he was just walking past, asking whether there was a difference to the low note that had been next to it. At a glance, it was so natural that he might even be just speaking.
A flawless passaggio.
Without even realising that her pen had dropped out, she was indulged in Jo Yunjae’s stage.
One step at a time – the step-by-step foundations that Jo Yunjae had built up was relayed to the audience with a perfect expression. And now, that expression was able to touch the hearts of the audience.
– This feeling, what is this feeling filling my heart?
Jo Yunjae, who had constantly whispered that eagerly, slowly brightened up his expression. As if he found out what that feeling was, he wore a bright smile and finally rang in a loud voice.
“Ja ja! die Liebe ist’s allein!”
[Right! This must be love!]
A rich resonance trembled her heart.
Ha, letting out a sigh, she stared at Jo Yunjae.
Isn’t this too sly
Constantly whispering in a small voice to tickle the heart and changing to a loud sound – he had demonstrated such a basic strategy perfectly. Reaching out his hands on to the audience with a bright smile, Jo Yunjae slowly made a dreamy expression.
“O, wenn ich sie nur finden könnte!”
[Oh if only I could find her!]
His expression slowly crumbled. The piano accompaniment quickened adding to the thumping resonance and mixing into that sound, he let out his song.
“O, wenn sie doch schon vor mir stände!”
[Oh, if she could stand before me!]
The pitiful timbre drawing something filled the concert hall. His expression that glanced across the audience relaxed once again and along with that, the tension that had filled the audience had been slightly reduced.
“Ich würde, würde, warm unn rein...”
[I would be warm and pure...]
Appreciating those casual changes in expression, Hong Yoojin glanced down at the marking paper. A white paper without a single deduction could be seen.
Hong Yoojin gave a smile.
Teacher Kwak Jungsoo is too much.
How am I supposed to do anything to this?
After tapping her hand on the chair in thought, she just decided to lean back on the chair and appreciate the song. She could see Jo Yunjae spread his arms wide spewing out the last sound.
“...sie dann mein–!”
When the performance ended,
Loud applause filled the hall.
Clapping with a smile, Hong Yoojin randomly scribbled on the marking paper and got rid of it. With that level, there was nothing to point out at a high school level. It wasn’t even a concour after all.
As she gave a nod, teacher Ku Mingi’s voice entered her ears.
“How was it”
“...He’s good but...”
When she flicked her head across, the two men were still in their conversation. She could see the bitter-faced Kim Munchul heave a deep sigh.
“But with that talent isn’t it better to just conduct? No matter how good the ears are, it’s not very useful for singing either...”
Now what was this about? WIth curious eyes she glanced at the two and pointed her ears. After a small smile, Ku Mingi opened his mouth.
“Teacher Kim Munchul. Do you know how opera singers practise?”
After tapping on the table, he continued. i𝚗n𝘳𝙚𝑎𝗱. 𝑐𝗼𝒎
“They listen to their own singing, or have others listen to it, to improve the places where they lack or are weird.”
“But if they could listen better than others, then wouldn’t they be able to sing better in the end?”
As she glanced at the two teachers, Hong Yoojin tilted her head with an expression that said, what was this all about.
Kim Munchul’s reaction was a bit strange. After being unable to continue for a bit, he answered in a bitter voice.
“... I know what you mean but... look. His body’s so weak right now, how good of a song will he be able to sing?”
Ku Mingi gave a smile.
“He can still grow. He’s only in his first grade of high school.”
“Huh, that’s pretty much past the growing stage...”
Staring at Jo Yunjae leaving the stage in a distance, Kim Munchul opened his mouth.
“But... if he grows further... then I don’t know, how it would be.”
Hong Yoojin who was glancing at the two men whispering, shrugged her shoulders and leaned back onto her chair.
What are they even talking about
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