Act 10: D.C. 4
Once the concert was over, it was time for a group photo. The performers all walked up to the stage in groups and had pictures taken of them as a variant of a curtain call.
Although it wasn’t official or mandatory, since it was my first time standing on a large stage, I decided there would be no harm in participating.
When I actually stood on the stage, I felt moved. On the brightly lit stage, the performers stood wearing fine clothes as sounds of photos being taken as well as laughter and chatter filled my ears.
After taking those pictures which would be decorating a corner of our school website, we were given free time. We could take pictures with our family, friends, and could also take a shot or two with acquaintances or get to know others during this time.
Especially for the outsiders, it was the most opportune time for them to approach the performers so those that performed well had crowds gathering near them.
“As expected of Miss Lee Suh-ah. It was a fabulous song.”
“Student Kim Wuju. If you have time…”
Unsurprisingly, Lee Suh-ah and Kim Wuju had the most number of people approaching them. They had a lot of fame under their belt due to various concours and concerts so they received a lot of attention from outsiders.
It was natural because they were geniuses who had their future success guaranteed.
Introducing themselves as staff of an ensemble, some college, or a famous musical group, people approached them. However, judging from how they reacted casually to those queries, it seemed like it was an everyday thing for Lee Suh-ah and Kim Wuju.
I stared at them with amazement when Chloe standing further away entered my sight. Wearing a cold look on her face, she was talking to a male.
“…we will provide…”
“I’m not interested.”
She had a frown as if she was annoyed, and soon, perhaps noticing a gaze, she suddenly turned towards me. And when our eyes met, a bright smile appeared on her lips.
Leaving behind the male who reached out in a fluster, she trotted her way and soon arrived next to me.
“Yunjae, what are you doing here! Let’s go take a picture together!”
“…That’s fine but… weren’t you talking to that man over there?”
“It just finished~”
She must have been extremely annoyed but if she plans on walking down the path of a performer, it would be better to form connections…
Seeing the bright smile on her face, I smiled.
Well, since she was still in the first grade, I guess that could wait a bit.
Time passed as I took pictures with Chloe and others, and the people from outside started recognising me. They walked up and gave me a few stealthy offers – without saying anything direct, they explained the charms and pros of their organisation.
“We have this programme for growing young artists…”
“There’s a plan to give scholarships to…”
“I believe we have the greatest line of teachers…”
Like that, they gave out offers I had never expected to ever receive but I put those offers to the side in an evasive manner. After all, I was still too young to be certain of, or decide my future.
With a smile plastered on my face and somehow finishing entertaining the guests, I sat down on a chair inside the hall, exhausted.
“They’re very impatient right?”
Turning my eyes to where the voice sounded, I found Kim Wuju smiling with his hand holding the helper’s.
“It must’ve been tough on you as well. Surprised you made it out.”
“Well, it is the fourth year for me.”
Kim Wuju said that as if it didn’t concern him in the slightest. Hearing that, I realised once again that he had no interest in anything unrelated to singing.
A genius blind to anything other than songs, Kim Wuju.
Since he put a lot of effort in and enjoyed the process, plus his talents, it wasn’t a coincidence that he became the greatest opera singer of the century. With a slightly heavy heart, I stared at him when he slowly turned his head back towards the stage.
“The song you sang today was Elf King right?”
Standing still, he faced the stage as he opened his lips.
“You know when Sir Timothy Dickson came last time.”
Turning towards him, I saw his face that had its eyebrows pulled in towards the centre.
“The song you sang back then, ‘Tristesse’; I enjoyed it a lot. It was very heavy and was a song that had your music embedded in it and although it’s usually sung by baritones, it strangely suited you a lot.”
Blinking my eyes, I thought.
So… he’s talking about the master class with Sir Timothy Dickson right? Kim Wuju was there as well so it’s natural he knew about it but why was he suddenly bringing that back up?
With my head tilted to one side, I was about to say thanks when he suddenly turned and faced me with a flick of his head.
His expressionless look filled my vision.
“But why did you choose Elf King for this concert?”
As if he found it weird, Kim Wuju frowned.
“I’m sure Tristesse was a lot better.”
After flinching to a stop, I stared back at him before facing the stage again. Watching the bright lights still pouring down the stage, I thought blankly.
‘Tristesse’ with my past and the newly learnt ‘Elf King’. The reason I picked Elf King out of the two was simple, and was because it would receive a better reaction from the audience.
However, Kim Wuju was saying otherwise. Kim Wuju, a genius infinitely above me, was saying that.
“Tristesse was better?”
“Of course. I always thought your songs were very interesting. That… who was it again? Ever since you were singing with that girl.”
“Yeah her. But it felt like your music, the heavy and sorrowful song disappeared in Elf King so that was disappointing.”
Kim Wuju waited for a reply from me, who remained seated, before tapping on the helper’s hand and carrying his feet when he received none.
“In any case, I’m not saying this song was bad. I’ll be going then~”
Staring at his distancing back, I contemplated in silence.
Tristess was a song that contained 20 years of my life. Kim Wuju said he preferred that over the fancy techniques of Elf King.
But, what in the world was my ‘music’?
The previous heavy vocalisation method and not the one teacher Ku Mingi taught me?
Or the long years of experience?
Is he saying the new song lacked in expression due to a lack of practice?
Left alone inside the hall, I closed my eyes.
With the Prac High-achievers Concert finished, the second semester began in full swing. As if to welcome the students that got to rest as much as they want during the holidays, lessons, practices, concerts, concours and studies were packed into their schedule.
It didn’t take long for the faces of the performing art students that were brightened after playing around and eating what their hearts desired to have dark clouds forming.
No more than three days.
After that were the familiar zombie-like faces of the students overflowing within the school.
“…Tomorrow I have a test and yet I have to practise for the concour as well.”
“We need to study for mid-sems as well…”
But even during those busy days were students diligently enjoying the rights of students.
With the second semester well and truly on the way, there were those that changed their clubs as well as members of various clubs going around publicising their societies.
“Are you interested in the Hymns Society?”
“The French Cultural Research Society is looking for new members~”
Like that, upperclassmen entered the class during lessons after receiving permission from the teacher and promoted their club activities. Staring at the noisy scene at the front with boredom, Lee Suh-ah twirled the ends of her hair before throwing a glance at me.
“Are you not going to enter any clubs?”
Tapping the table in thought, I nodded.
Clubs were quite important in Future Arts High.
Quite evidently, the performing art industry was one that was tightly intertwined with connections. Therefore, ‘clubs and societies’ which acted as pretty much the one and only method that connected us to upperclassmen was naturally the most important aspect in forming connections.
Besides, since clubs could be counted as a form of work experience… there were pretty much no students that did not enter a single club.
Last semester, I avoided entering one to focus on my studies but since I somewhat caught up to the high school studies that I had forgotten during the past 20 years, there was no reason not to enter one now.
Sir Dickson also said to build up a lot of experience to become an opera actor so…
After slowly organising my thoughts, I turned my gaze towards Lee Suh-ah.
“For now I’m thinking of entering one that’s related to opera acting.”
Song Mirae who was eagerly waiting for an opportunity from the side sparkled her eyes and chimed in. When I turned and faced her, there was a long-awaited look on her face. Her eyes shined in expectation, a bright smile appeared on her lips and her hands formed a grip.
In that state, she pushed her upper body in towards me excitedly as a glad voice escaped her lips.
“Then you can enter our musical club!”
I thought while touching my chin.
Musicals… came out from opera so doing that will be, in its own way, an experience as an opera actor. Although it would be great if there were opera clubs, there weren’t any when I checked during the first semester.
Well, perhaps it was nothing surprising.
High schoolers were more interested in musicals than the boring opera acts in general and there weren’t clear, strict distinctions between the two either.
Seeing that I wasn’t against it from my expression, Song Mirae immediately started blabbering about the pros of the musical club.
“Our club prepares a performance every semester. After choosing an act, we practise for the whole semester until we present it towards the end of the semester and besides, since it’s been more than 30 years since it was founded, the support it receives is great! There are teachers watching our singing practices as well as acting practices and it is the best way to build up experience!”
Singing and acting lessons huh…
Those were indispensible skills for an opera actor. Although acting was less important than singing, operas were also plays so learning acting would be better than nothing if I’m going to become a professional opera actor.
I was nodding swiftly in response when Song Mirae, who had been running her mouth suddenly stiffened.
“Maybe it’s not good to enter the musical club after all…”
What was this after all that enthusiastic invitation? Tilting my head, I looked at her, stealing a glance at me, soon opening her mouth.
“That… there’s Kim Sukwon-sunbae there…”
Who was that again?
I fell in deep thought when Song Mirae opened her mouth in a complaining tone.
“He’s that upperclassman during the song presentation… he is the leader of our club. After that day, I’m super disliked. He doesn’t talk to me and doesn’t give me any roles either.”
Only then did the memories start floating up.
Kim Sukwon. Right, there was an upperclassman with that name who picked a fight with us. He was the leader of the musical club huh…
Seeing me contemplating with crossed arms, Song Mirae whispered.
“I think he’ll be like that to you if you enter as well… no, maybe, it would be even worse?”
“…Most likely yeah.”
I did take him down a notch with words so he most definitely wouldn’t like me.
“What should I do… Sorry Yunjae… Because of me, you…”
With my eyes on Song Mirae having her lips pointing down, I slowly organised the situation.
So, the leader of the most famous musical club of our school, Cantabile is Kim Sukwon who hates me a lot. Even Song Mirae was being treated like that so he would hate me even more.
Therefore, even if I entered that club, I wouldn’t be able to have any proper activities done because there was no way he would allocate a good role to me even if there was a performance.
Wouldn’t he give me a role with one line or something? Since he’s the leader, he probably had the power to.
When I was in the midst of thinking of an alternative with my mouth closed, I suddenly heard the front door of the class being pushed open.
Then, a girl appeared.
My eyes caught sight of that girl; she had a blue name tag that hung on her clothes, and gave a deep bow before entering the classroom.