Act 8: Lively 6
After the presentation of the composing department was over, the school atmosphere seemed to have gotten slightly heavier, giving off an atmosphere like everything was covered in the humid heat of June.
Or perhaps it was an atmosphere formed due to the prac tests that would mark the end of the first semester creeping up close… forming an atmosphere of nervousness.
Within all that, Ku Mingi wiped the drop of sweat flowing down his forehead and glanced around. He could see various expressions of the fellow teachers.
There were some teachers spinning their pens with excitement, teachers glaring at himself with an expressionless look and others looking away seemingly uninterested.
After finally scanning over the principal who was sitting down at the very end, Ku Mingi squared the ends of the papers and opened his mouth.
“…The results of the concours so far are all here. As for the awards, it is showing an increase in amount compared to last year and, that’s especially so with the freshmen opera department.”
“The opera department… I heard that there were 5 people that entered the finals of the Future Central Concour? From the freshmen, at that.”
“Yes. And Kim Wuju and Lee Suh-ah got first places respectively.”
The teachers gave off sighs of admiration.
What kind of concour was the Future Central Concour? It was an honourable one which every performing art student nationwide would participate in. Although it was just a high school segment, the fact that freshmen students had won, leaving behind all the third-graders was an amazing thing.
It would not be an overstatement to say that they were the greatest of the current generation.
Ku Mingi glanced at the rowdy staff members before adding a few words.
“And from other departments, the violin, viola and others has been won by the third-graders of our school and, for the piano… the freshman student Chloe has come first place.”
There were cries of astonishment within the entire crowd. Some teachers looked at Ku Mingi with widened eyes while some nodded their heads as if they had known about it beforehand. There were also a few number of teachers who sat blankly and gave mutters of admiration.
They seemed to be more surprised than when the first places of the opera department were announced. However, that was natural because it was the first place in piano of the famous Future Central Concour.
Besides, it was unexpectedly by a new student called Chloe, who was different from Lee Suh-ah and Kim Wuju who had been famous ever since their middle school days. Also, because the opera department gave out awards separately for the male and female voice parts, there was a lot less competition compared to the piano.
Through all that vicious competitiveness, a freshman student had come first?
The teachers were overwhelmed with excitement and started to have noisy conversations.
“A freshman taking first place from the piano department… how many years has it been since that happened?”
“Not sure, but I think it’s the first time ever since Ju Seungjin.”
“Ju Seungjin! Aye, how proud was the Shinhwa Performing Arts High after producing him? We can finally take them down a notch!”
“Chloe huh… isn’t she under teacher Kang Heewon? Is she really that good?”
Kang Heewon who was forced back by the fussy teachers made an awkward smile.
“Uh… she was good but… around a month ago was it? She suddenly became a lot better. Ah… I think it was around when she talked about doing the song presentation.”
“The song presentation?”
Looking down on the curious expressions of the teachers, Song Muntak made a grin.
Their updates on information was a bit slow.
After being proud of himself for no reason, he was suddenly reminded.
‘Right, it was a month ago…’
He once again remembered the adolescent face of Jo Yunjae. A month – he had raised such a great pianist in a mere month and that was an enviable talent.
‘What’s so good about singing?’
After heaving a sigh, Song Muntak shook his head.
He knew that Jo Yunjae was decent at singing, because he had shown an interesting skill directly in front of him. However, wasn’t he better suited to be a conductor? No matter how one thought, his future would be a bright one filled with flowers.
How do I pull him into the conducting department… After thinking for a bit, the principal suddenly shot his head up and glanced at the teachers. He could see the teachers being curious about what had led up to Chloe’s sudden improvement in skills.
Song Muntak made a smile.
‘Right. I could just spread the news about his talents.’
Jo Yunjae was still nothing but a high schooler. If he was persuaded by tonnes of people, his heart would waver for sure and more so since that would be from the teachers who were way above himself.
After making a smile of satisfaction, he glanced around and opened his mouth.
“The song presentation last week huh. Chloe – I coincidentally came across her performance and… she was good. Ah, is there perhaps anyone here that didn’t get to hear it yet?”
The teachers looked at each other with tilted heads and soon replied that that was the case. In fact, since there weren’t many teachers that would attend Improvement Concerts every week, it was natural for the majority to have missed out on it.
Song Muntak leaned forward with interlocked fingers and smiled.
“Hmm… It sounds like a good idea to watch it again right here. Isn’t it a student that came first place at the Future Central Concour? We, as the teachers should at least know where her skills are currently at right?”
Soon, the screen on the side of the conference room started playing a recording of the Improvement Concert. A group of male and female walked out together as a blonde-haired female student sat in front of the piano.
And then, the song started flowing out.
Song Muntak who had been listening to the three performers with a smile glanced around to see the reactions of the surroundings.
Now, how was it; can you feel the unbelievable development of the piano and the expert-like skills that grouped the three into one? Isn’t this the ultimate talent of conductors?
Within his eyes that had been quickly glancing across the staff members, a teacher sighing in admiration appeared.
“Chloe… a freshman was it? It truly is unbelievable.”
“Wait, this, I thought it was just the piano but the rest are amazing as well.”
Right, harmony. That was it.
Song Muntak was nodding his head when suddenly, a voice of astonishment entered his ears.
“Wait… you’re saying that boy there is Jo Yunjae?”
When he turned his head around, he saw a teacher with dropped chins. Her name was… Kang Heewon was it?
He stared at her with a doubtful expression when Kang Heewon started opening her mouth with a stutter.
“I didn’t know Jo Yunjae was that good… I’m pretty sure he didn’t apply for any concours because he wasn’t confident and yet…”
After that, there were several teachers following suit.
“Right, Jo Yunjae. I remember him being the last place during admission.”
“He seemed to have been getting a lot better recently and now that I’m watching him, I can tell it’s true. Watch him blending into the piano. Iya…”
“It’s already good enough that he’s not being suppressed by the accompaniment.”
“His Korean pronunciation is good as well. Usually, because they study both Italian and German, there are cases where the students are bad with Korean but…”
“This year’s opera department is really amazing.”
Hearing the series of compliments coming from the teachers, Song Muntak made a dumbfounded expression.
Uh…? This isn’t right.
Oblivious to the principal in that state, the teachers naturally started evaluating Jo Yunjae’s skills and giving compliments to the sudden improvement of the opera’s rookie.
I saw him directly and his growth speed was amazing; his expression skills were good; I’m pretty sure he was a kid without any basics and yet when I realised, he was already like that…
After talking on like that, the teacher in charge of the entirety of the freshmen students glanced at Ku Mingi before casually opening his mouth.
“If I remember correctly… Jo Yunjae is teacher Ku Mingi’s student right?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Kuhum… Umm, teacher Ku Mingi is already taking care of student Jun Shihyuk so is there a need to be in charge of two students?”
“…Sorry? Didn’t we already have this conversation before?”
“The situation is different now. Talented kids like that must receive intensive, differentiated care…”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.”
Seeing the sudden fight for Jo Yunjae between the opera department teachers, Song Muntak made a dejected expression.
‘How do I bring him into the conducting department…’
Oblivious to the fact that she had given a headache to Song Muntak, Song Mirae was lying down on the bed, humming.
Her swinging legs evidently reflected her unsettled mood.
“Hihih, ah, what photo should I send~? Suh-ah, Suh-ah. What photo should I send to make that Han Dasom angry?”
Without even caring about the sigh Lee Suh-ah gave off, Song Mirae glanced through the photos she had on her phone.
They were photos she took during the composition of the song, behind Jo Yunjae’s back.
After going through her hard-earned collection, she finally decided on a two-shot of herself and Jo Yunjae.
She gave a grin and soon attached the photo to send a message to Han Dasom.
(Photo of her right next to Jo Yunjae)
The song practices of the composition department were so fun~~ haha.]
Song Mirae then glanced at the messages with expectant eyes. Soon, when the sign that the messages had been read popped up, Song Mirae broke into a giggle.
“She’s ignoring me! Ignoring! Puhihihih.”
“…Is doing that fun?”
“Yeah, it’s so~ fun.”
Rolling around on the bed, Song Mirae was absorbed in the luxury of victory before suddenly raising her head up. Although she was drunk in happiness for a bit, she once again realised that the reality was a lot darker.
She stayed downhearted a bit before opening her lips.
“Ah but… Jo Yunjae’s acting so distant, what should I do…”
“Why? Didn’t you practise with him for a long time?”
“Un, but he doesn’t talk to me a lot, and he only talks about songs…”
Was Jo Yunjae like that? From Lee Suh-ah’s memories, he wasn’t someone who didn’t talk about anything outside singing though…
Song Mirae stared silently at Lee Suh-ah who was in thought before whispering with a cute expression.
“Suh-ah~ Can you please connect us again~”
There were now two weeks left until the prac tests.
Prac test, prac test… the more I thought of it, the more frustrated I became and it felt like I had something pushing my heart down.
I didn’t think I would get nervous after living so much but now that I thought about how the prac tests weren’t far off, sighs would escape unconsciously.
Ah, I want to do super well but I couldn’t think of a good way no matter how much I contemplated. How could I win against Lee Suh-ah and Kim Wuju?
Like that, I was thinking about other things when Lee Suh-ah who had been singing in front of me caught me from my daydreams like a ghost.
“Can you focus? You need to give me feedback for my practice.”
“…Ah, I was thinking about the prac tests for a bit.”
Lee Suh-ah with her white skin, tied up black hair and cold facial features, stood on the other side within the small practice room and stared at me.
Meeting my eyes with Lee Suh-ah who was glancing up at me, a thought suddenly popped up in my head.
Now that I thought of it, it seemed like I was practising a lot with Lee Suh-ah recently.
These days, I was practising with her to get clues on the ‘emotions’ and there were some decent results. Because Lee Suh-ah was the first person to have felt the ‘emotions’ from me, my skills grew rapidly with her listening and giving feedback to my songs.
I had reached a point where I could embed ‘emotions’ whenever I wanted.
If I could add the original techniques on top of this, it would be perfect but… although unfortunate, I had not reached that level yet. As soon I put the ‘emotions’ in, my techniques would stumble a bit.
However, it felt like I was getting better slowly but surely.
I was thinking that perhaps I might be able to put these skills on display during the prac test, when Lee Suh-ah tilted her head.
“Prac test? Have you picked the prac songs?”
“Hmm… Yeah I did but…”
Touching my chin, I thought back.
Prac songs – songs that had to show off my fullest as the weapons made only for me. Naturally, I contemplated deeply and decided on the songs after long debates with teacher Ku Mingi.
The first song was Schubert’s Elf King.
It was a difficult lied that required me to play four roles by myself but this was a song I picked to demonstrate my ‘sword style changes’.
A song that could only be done by me. It would probably be difficult for even Kim Wuju and Lee Suh-ah to pull this song off – it was a song I selected with such expectations and was also a song that was greatly recommended by teacher Ku Mingi.
The second song was…
I was in some thought when Lee Suh-ah suddenly surfaced a small sneer.
What was that for?
“Whatever. You’re not even going to tell me anyway. Try your best.”
Well, Lee Suh-ah was always like that and this was how our practices looked every time. We bickered a lot.
Because when Lee Suh-ah sang, it would always be like:
“Seriously! Why do you always sing like that? If you push the note longer there, the tempo is just all gone!”
“What are you even saying? You need to do this to put more emotion in. Do you not see the music sheets and how it says espressivo?”
“You’ll kill the tempo to put more emotions in? When the key factor of this song is to make it livelier and cheerful?”
“Focusing more on emotion or tempo – that is up to the performer.”
“Yes but, haven’t you heard Netrebko’s song? She sang with the focus on the tempo.”
“Jo Sumi focused on the emotion though?”
After a short glaring contest, I heaved out a sigh and shook my head.
Ehew, what was I doing with a kid?
In fact, it was nothing to fight over and because there was no ‘one answer’ to songs, perhaps Lee Suh-ah was correct. The preferred way of singing differing for each performer was a natural thing as well.
But… what is frustrating, is frustrating.
“No but… you can sing better than that…”
“How do you know it’ll be better if I sing like that?”
How do I know it? I know it because your future self sang like that. Thinking that, I clicked my tongue when Lee Suh-ah threw a glance at me before opening her mouth.
“By the way, Netrebko? You like her songs?”
“Hmm…? Not really I guess? I just heard a few times because she was good at singing.”
“…Then who do you like the most out of sopranos?”
This was yet another sudden question.
Tilting my head, I placed my hand on my chin and thought. My favourite soprano huh… if I had to pick one, I guess I liked Lee Suh-ah the most. Of course, not this midget high schooler here but the future Lee Suh-ah.
After all, she was a soprano evaluated as having reached the pinnacle in terms of technique.
But because I didn’t want to say, I like you the most, I gave a roundabout reply.
“From the sopranos… I like a bit of a spinto-ish timbre with a bit of lyrical aspect added to that. I do like Netrebko in that sense but… I wish she had a bit more noble-like timbre added to hers.”
Nodding her head, Lee Suh-ah typed a few things on her phone and raised her head.
“Then any songs you like?”
“Songs? Well… I like opera arias, musical songs, pop songs… I like everything.”
“Just pick one then. The most recent one.”
“Hmm… Le temps des cathédrales?”
Seeing Lee Suh-ah typing things, it oddly felt like I was getting interrogated. I mean, just look at her attitude. She was like a police officer who had to ask questions due to her duty on things she wasn’t even interested in.
…Although I was responding, it felt somewhat annoying.
“And yes bangs, or no bangs? What do you like more?”
“Just think of it as changing my hairstyle and tell me.”
What was this?
Normally, if a girl asked this, people would think, ‘Uh? What’s happening?’ but Lee Suh-ah’s tone made me indifferent as well.
Clicking my tongue, I shook my head.