Act 10: D.C. 7
The kids that had sung in the concert, Lee Suh-ah, Han Dasom, Kim Wuju and Jun Shihyuk wore faces filled with curiosity.
“I thought we were just singing a chorus?”
“Yeah, so, that was how it had been during middle school, but it changes a little in high school.”
Glancing over the kids blinking their eyes in cluelessness, I nodded.
Future Performing Art High School’s Subscription Concert.
This large concert held annually is on a whole new league compared to other concerts and unlike those that were performed in a school hall, it was held outside.
In addition, the building they rented was none other than the famous Seoul Arts Centre. We would be singing at an overwhelmingly large, dedicated hall in front of thousands of seats.
Its scale was on a similar level to concours and was the fanciest concert of Future Arts High, leagues apart from the small scale concerts of middle school. Perhaps it would be a lot different from the Subscription Concerts they were accustomed to.
“Hmm… I haven’t checked the songs yet so it’s not certain what songs we will be performing but… it would most likely be like this. The first-graders and the second-graders will be performing a chorus together – that much is the same, but after a few choruses, the prac high-achievers would be gathering for a separate song of their own!”
Just one song, but that song will not be a simple one.
As if she read my mind, teacher Kang Heewon continued her explanations.
“And that song will be sung by two pairs of male and female, each from the high-achievers of the first and second grade students. There would be a total of four people singing at the front as main vocals, with the others being in the chorus at the back~”
One pair of male and female – hearing that, we exchanged glances. There were five prac high-achievers but only two would be allowed to stand at the front.
…I could smell competition which teachers loved and adored. There was no way they would refrain from using such an easy solution to the problem.
Wearing a face of resignation, I remained sitting when teacher Kang Heewon exclaimed as expected.
“The principal who will be in charge of conducting will conduct a few interviews later and choose the mains. So, our prac high-achiever students should practise hard until then right?”
“Then! That’s the end for today!”
In front of the newly announced large event, kids started talking amongst themselves with enlivened faces. I could see all sorts of emotions going through their reddened faces. There was anticipation from being able to perform at the Seoul Arts Centre, anxiety due to performing at the largest stage they had ever been in, as well as jealousy towards us who might become the main vocals…
Staring at them, I grinned.
‘Reminds me of the past.’
I was like them back then.
Before going up the stage of Seoul Arts Centre, I trembled a lot from nervousness and constantly made small mistakes. I remember punching my pillow after returning home from the performance in regret, because it was all over the place. Even now, I was embarrassed whenever I reflected on it.
To artists and musicians, the Arts Centre was a place like that. The name itself was a source of pressure as pleasant nervousness awaited us; that place which symbolised the success of musicians.
Seoul Arts Centre.
‘A main vocalist there huh…’
Suddenly, a memory of the past resurfaced. Beneath the radiant lights, the protagonists stood and behind them was an orchestra of dozens of musicians, receiving faint spotlight. With all sorts of instruments in their hands, they played the accompaniment dedicated for the main vocals as they attracted the gazes of thousands of audience.
And behind all that.
In that dark corner with not a single light peeking through, there was an ensemble of densely packed singers. Shoulders pushed against others and without even a music stand to place the sheets on, I sang.
While letting out the same sound as the kids next to me, and the other kids standing next to them, I sang.
I was in deep flashback when Han Dasom blankly opened her lips from the side.
“Seoul Arts Centre…”
Throwing a glance, I found Han Dasom making a dull expression.
“Nn…? Ah, it’s just that…”
Making a shy smile, Han Dasom met her eyes with mine.
“It doesn’t seem realistic to me… Seoul Arts Centre… I’ve been there to watch a concert but now I’m going there to perform… it feels strange.”
Indeed, it does feel weird to attend as a performer at a place you had only been in as a part of the audience.
“Besides, there’s the interview as well.”
Hearing her say that reminded me of it.
In situations like today where there were issues with parts allocation or a missing role, interviews would be held amongst performers. The conductor in charge of the stage would be in the lead deciding the sections, after considering the skills and various other aspects of the musicians.
‘And the most important one of those aspects is…’
Turning my head, I stared at Kim Wuju, closing his eyes. Listening to him chatting with the girls next to him about the concert, I quietly thought to myself.
‘The ability to get attention.’
Subscription Concerts were held once a year by Korea’s greatest performing art school, Future Arts High and naturally, its objective was half for showing off.
Our students are excellent and amazing – after stamping that to the outsiders’ heads, they increased the fame of the school and attracted better students with that fame. This strategy of Future Arts High that prided themselves as the birthplace of Korea’s performing art world for 40 years was simple yet effective.
Therefore, the frontmost position of Subscription Concerts were the faces of Future Arts High. It wasn’t given away easily and the most important question was how high the students could increase Future Arts High’s fame by.
Due to that, although the singing skills were also important, the ability to gather the eyes and attention of outsiders was important.
And when it came to that, Kim Wuju was definitely the top. There was the uniqueness of being a blind genius, his three years of fame built up during middle school, a good look added to the overwhelming singing skills…
“It’s going to be difficult…”
A sigh escaped my lips unknowingly.
How can I beat him? It’s not like I could attack through a hole in the marking criteria like during the prac test and for me to win through singing skills alone, I was lacking. With a sullen face, I faced Kim Wuju when Han Dasom turned towards me with her head tilted.
“I’m talking about the interview. I have to be against Kim Wuju out of everyone else.”
Resting my chin on my hand, I contemplated but soon closed my eyes. Although it was unfortunate… there was nothing I could do.
I worked hard but so would Kim Wuju. Whenever I was in a practice room, I’m sure Kim Wuju was inside one himself, singing as hard as he could.
Because that was the kind of guy he was.
He was the hardworking genius who would be praised by the media in the future as an enjoying genius. If two people tried hard, it’s not one of them’s fault even if the other fails right?
Within the darkness, I slowly organised my thoughts when a foreign touch tapped and spread warmth through my fingers. Feeling the ticklish touch carefully caressing a tip of my finger, I opened my eyes with a flash and found Han Dasom sitting before me.
Wearing a wide smile, she whispered.
“It reminds me of the prac test…”
“…the prac test?”
She who had been slowly twirling her finger around my nail raised her head slightly and faced somewhere distant. Her eyes scanned past the wall as it travelled across and settled in one direction.
Her gaze stopped at the prac test venue, as her eyes seemed to be staring at the blazing competition held a month ago.
“Back then, Yunjae had the same expression… it didn’t look happy… it was a heart-wrenching look…”
Pressing hard on her own chest, she murmured softly as memories buried somewhere deep slowly began rising up.
Back then… right. Before walking into the venue, I became nervous in an unsightly manner. Although it was because I had to sing straight after Kim Wuju, even then, I was trembling too much.
I only came to myself after Han Dasom talked to me like today – like what she had done for me today.
“The prac test back then… we did it well right…?”
Han Dasom looked into my eyes as her large eyes bent beautifully.
“I’m sure we can do it well again… right?”
Like the surface of water rippling after a drop, a single thought spread towards every corner of my brain. We can do well – it was a straightforward encouragement with not a single strategy or promise behind it.
But even then, a smile sneaked past my lips.
The smile that resembled an empty laugh increased with every shake and soon turned into a rippling tide overwhelming my heart. My lips raised themselves up as my diaphragm vomited laughter, raising and lowering itself as it pleased. In the midst of all that, my head that had been muddled with complex thoughts became clear and pleasant.
“Huhhuhu. Right, let’s try our best. I’m sure we can do it well.”
I found her bashful smile to my liking.
Yes, what would change even if I contemplated on the unlikelihood? Even in the prac test, a strategy was somehow formed so this time around, maybe I would be chosen during the interview unknowingly.
A strategy to beat Kim Wuju – let’s build it up one by one. With a smile, I thought and decided to reach out towards Han Dasom as the first step.
“First, let’s form an alliance.”
Seeing her widening her eyes into circles, I nodded.
“An alliance. You need to beat Lee Suh-ah and I need to win against Kim Wuju and Jun Shihyuk. So, let’s ally ourselves up and practise together.”
She stared at my hand reaching out for a handshake and tilted her head before looking back into my eyes.
“Do we need to…?”
Don’t tell me she was going to refuse it? I hadn’t even thought of that as an option.
I was stiffened for a short while due to the unexpectedness when Han Dasom smiled with faint dimples showing next to her lips.
“Even if we don’t…”
Her warm hands started slowly enveloping my hands.
“I’m always on Yunjae’s side.”
A warm wind breezed around us two.
With her eyes on Han Dasom and Jo Yunjae whispering to themselves, Lee Suh-ah rested her chin on her hand.
Recently, she couldn’t help but steal glances at them.
There wasn’t a particular reason for it – she was just bored, or had nothing to do during the short free time before her practice lessons. It was like staring forward blankly in a train when someone happened to sit in front. Right, it was that kind of coincidence.
…Making those excuses to herself, Lee Suh-ah observed the two and seeing nothing unusual happening, she turned around. Then, she could see Song Mirae and Chloe having a conversation.
“Chloe is a prac high-achiever as well, yeah? Then did you get a separate segment for the Subscription Concert?”
“Yes. The teacher said she would give me one later.”
“I’m so jealous… I want to stand at the front as well.”
With a downhearted look, Song Mirae repeatedly whispered “Seoul Arts Centre… I want to be the protagonist…” before suddenly raising her head and facing Lee Suh-ah.
“There’s no other choice! I should get vicarious pleasure by having our Suh-ah be at the front~”
“…Is that how it works?”
“Nn. If my friend goes up, it’s good for me as well. Hihih.”
Seeing Song Mirae hugging and rubbing her face on her arm, Lee Suh-ah broke out into a grin and turned away.
“There’s Dasom as well. I might lose.”
“Eyy~ Han Dasom? Although she’s a liiittle bit better these days, she can’t be compared to our Suh-ah!”
Heaving out a sigh with a little mix of a smile, Lee Suh-ah shrugged her shoulders.
Well, putting aside herself and Han Dasom, she was quite curious about the competition between male opera students.
Kim Wuju who felt like an insurmountable wall.
Jun Shihyuk who isolated himself in practice rooms these days.
And Jo Yunjae hiding something.
“…So during my cousin’s wedding, Yunjae came and…”
“Huhuh. This is the song we practised together during the holidays!”
Who will win, I wonder?
Listening to the chatters of Chloe and Song Mirae with one ear and letting them out through the other, Lee Suh-ah closed her eyes.
Sorry for no uploads last week. Had to focus on finishing my assessments >.<