Act 11: Slowly 3
To students doing music, concours were all important but if one had to pick the most important concours, most would choose two.
The first one was the Spring and Autumn Music Concour. Being one of the largest concours nationwide held every May, it was the type of concour which almost every performing art student participated in.
And the second one was Future Central Music Concour.
As one could perhaps tell from its name, it was a concour hosted by the Future Foundation and in the past, it was a small concour that lost in fame compared to Spring and Autumn Concour.
However, recently due to an increasing number of investments, it gradually increased in magnitude until it was as authoritative as the Spring and Autumn Concour.
These were obviously lacking compared to many national concours that were held once a few years, but these were, in any case, the biggest nationwide concours held every year.
And there was something shared in common by the two concours and it was that both were held in May, during the first semester.
Then what concours were there during the second semester?
I, who had been thinking of other things while sitting down, glanced and examined the room which approximately had the same size as a small classroom. Inside, there were a few students chattering in their seats, wearing all sorts of school uniforms.
Those wearing the familiar Future Arts High uniforms formed their own groups and talked amongst themselves, while our rival school, the Central Arts High students sat near them and formed a strange sense of tension. There were also students wearing casual clothes and those wearing uniforms I did not know of.
‘National News Concour’.
Currently, I was attending a music concour hosted by a small newspaper agency.
Examining the atmosphere around me, I was thinking of such things when the chatters of the students sitting around me entered my ears.
“Hey, how much time left until it’s our turn?”
“You’re number 10 so it’ll be soon.”
“Seriously, like, just hurry up. It’s not even a great concour, so why is there a speech for?”
“But we only need to sing one song so it’s easy right?”
Blankly staring at them, I made a bitter smile. Well, it was a concour with a scale this small but… it can’t be helped.
Due to the two giants – the originally famous Spring and Autumn Concour and the Future Concour’s uprise as a result of sudden investment, other concours ended up in a comparatively lower standing.
Therefore, a concour hosted by a small newspaper agency like this was now being ignored by the top level students.
‘I have to attend even these though.’
I was in a different situation. Because I had to receive a scholarship during the first semester, I had given up on those two concours so there was a need to make up for that during the second semester with as much concours as possible.
‘There’s the issue with Han Dasom as well.’
The reason for coming here was also to reduce Han Dasom’s guilt after she surpassed Lee Suh-ah during the Subscription Concert interview.
Those emotions were formed because she didn’t have experience competing against others so if she continued winning in these small contests, she should soon be able to accept it as something she can’t do anything about.
Since I was the one who led Han Dasom down this path, I had to bear some responsibility right? Besides, I just had to go to concours with her so it wasn’t that big of an issue either.
Well, I brought her while slightly feeling like a teacher but…
Han Dasom this girl was just sitting next to me, typing on her phone. Her face was fixed onto the screen and her usual slanted eyes were long gone, replaced by fiery eyes. Her lips were sealed shut.
I watched her in curiosity before opening my mouth.
“Who are you texting with?”
She, who had been typing on the letters in fury, turned her head up and saw my face before quickly hiding her phone startledly.
“I… it’s nothing.”
…It’s even more suspicious when she reacts like that though.
I gazed into her wandering pupils for a bit but soon shrugged my shoulders.
“Really? Soon it’s going to be our turn so don’t be too relaxed.”
Han Dasom carefully threw a glance at me but soon, her expression seemed to melt as a smile appeared on her lips.
I was worried that competition itself became a trauma due to the Subscription Concert thing but I guess it wasn’t that serious. Well, I guess that made sense considering how she came first in an audition programme in the future.
When I was inwardly accepting that fat, Han Dasom fidgeted with her fingers and faced me.
“Song Mirae, she joined your society right…?”
For a short while, I stared at her face and tilted my head.
Did I talk to Han Dasom about Song Mirae? How did she know?
The only thing I told her regarding societies was that I suggested Lee Suh-ah to join and that that had been rejected. I was curious but soon replied.
“Yeah we joined together. Why?”
“Nn… I see… Doesn’t she bother you…?”
“Nah, do you think I’ll let her do that?”
Han Dasom gave a bashful smile before lowering her head. Then, she once again fidgeted with her fingers in deep thought, after which she raised her head back to match my gaze. She then opened her lips.
“I… can I join your society Yunjae?”
“My society? Are you quitting the photography society?”
“Un. That’s just a hobby so it’s okay.”
Seeing her rapidly give a reply, I generously gave her a nod.
“Well, it’s good for me if there are more members.”
“Thank you. Hehe.”
I watched Han Dasom’s mood improve and grinned when my name was called from outside.
“Student Jo Yunjae!”
Hearing that, I shot out from my seat.
To put it in a nutshell, I received an award in the National News Concour – the first prize.
“Student Jo Yunjae from Future Performing Arts High School. Congratulations.”
After the simple award ceremony ended, I left the building and lowered my head to stare at the certificate award.
‘11th National News Music Concour’
‘1st place Award’
Glancing over those words, I soon folded the award and embraced it. The stiff texture touching my chest felt somewhat assuring.
‘A 1st place Award… it’s my first time.’
Whilst having such thoughts flow inside, I slowly carried my feet. In fact, I knew I’d be coming first the moment I applied for this concour because outstanding students didn’t participate in small contests like these.
Guys like Lee Suh-ah, Kim Wuju and Jun Shihyuk only focused on large contests and small ones like these were deemed a waste of time. Therefore, it was as clear as daylight and was even underhanded but…
…I couldn’t stop my lips from foolishly raising themselves up.
“Yunjae. Do you want to take a commemorative picture…?”
“Sure I guess.”
Han Dasom who had been hugging her own certificate from the side quickly typed a few words on her phone and before long, the driver walked out of the car with a large camera in his hands.
Then, he took a picture with the building in the background.
“It came out well, my lady.”
Like that, Han Dasom and I holding our respective certificates with a bright smile was etched onto a photograph.
The principal stood still and stared outside the window.
He could see students running in the oval, off in a faraway distance. The oval with several buildings placed around had students carrying instruments as countless teachers walked around.
Gazing down at them, the principal fidgeted with the baton in his hands and sank into deep thought.
‘Central Arts High huh…’
Although obvious, Future Arts High was not the only performing art school in Korea. There was at least one per district while some of them were famous just like Future Arts High and an example was Central Performing Arts High School.
Twisting the baton in his hands, he snorted.
Of course, everyone would agree that the best performing art school in Korea was Future Performing Arts High School. With a long history and constant support from the Foundation, it also prided in superb graduates and a solid group of teachers.
Although Central Arts High was a little decent, it wasn’t on the level of being able to contest against the fortress called Future Arts High.
However, since there was a second place, the first place could not lower their vigilance and the principal, Song Muntak, was also spending his day today, thinking of how he could keep their first place.
‘So this Subscription Concert is crucial…’
Although it was he himself that dared to bring up a musical, Song Muntak was also anxious because a challenge would always carry an opportunity and risk with itself.
If it succeeded, they would be able to create a bigger gap with Central Arts High but life is uncertain because it could fail right?
‘This is troubling.’
Song Muntak pressed his temples deeply and contemplated.
That was why the main vocals were important. Main vocals stood at the very front of the performance and received the gazes of the audience and grasped their ears with their songs – they were the protagonists of the stage.
Since they couldn’t easily decide on such protagonists, there was something he had prepared after talking to the teachers.
Turning his body around with a flick, Song Muntak sat on a chair and stared into the monitor for a while.
[Club Activity Plans]
Glancing across the document, Song Muntak made a faint smile.
Fortunately, without him even doing anything, the opportunity found its way towards him. It was an opportunity that would allow him to know who suited the position of the protagonist the most.
Even whilst going around, gathering up certificate awards from numerous concours, school life continued without rest.
Prac exam preparations, mid-sems preparations and the preparations for the Subscription Concert… On top of those, I also had to prepare for the club presentation.
To be honest, it was slightly daunting but since it was the path I had chosen, I couldn’t complain about it.
If you lacked talents, you must at least try harder.
I was walking with sunken eyes when Han Dasom from the side looked at me with a deeply worried look.
“Yunjae, are you okay…?”
“I am fine…”
Han Dasom, who was finding that pitiful had slanted her lips and took a thermos flask out of her bag before handing it over to me.
“This is a tea I drink, do you want it?”
Receiving the bottle from her and drinking it, I felt a sour yet sweet taste wetting my mouth as warmth seemed to be spreading out my body.
Ah, I feel alive.
I thanked her and opened the door of the club room as the familiar sight of the room revealed itself. On the long table, club members had taken their seats as teacher Kwak Jungsoo sitting in the head of the table, talking, raised his head from the sound of the creaking door.
“Ah, you came. Come sit.”
“Yes sorry. The class took longer than it should…”
“That’s okay. Things happen.”
When Han Dasom and I quickly took our seats, I felt a lot of eyes landing on me.
There was Song Mirae’s blunt gaze, Chloe’s bright smile, Yun Soojin-sunbae’s warm welcome and Lim Suhjoon-sunbae resting his chin on his hands.
Within the crowd of people, teacher Kwak Jungsoo slowly raised his body.
“Now. Although I had already greeted you guys, since there was a late student, I will now give you a proper greeting. I’m Kwak Jungsoo. Nice to meet you.”
Teacher Kwak Jungsoo slightly lowered his head in reply to the clapping sounds before returning his gaze back to us.
His large sharp eyes glanced across the members.
“This is something which should originally be done by the teacher in charge of the society, but since teacher Kim Ahri has gone overseas, I will take over this performance. However, that doesn’t mean I will be teaching you from zero to ten, because after all it is your society. I will be in the position of an adviser, so to speak. If anyone doesn’t agree to that, come out now.”
Seeing sunbaes glancing at one another due to teacher Kwak Jungsoo’s frightening appearance, I barely held myself back from laughing.
Teacher Kwak Jungsoo gazed across the quiet crowd and muttered “There’s none huh” to himself before walking up to the white board placed near the table.
Then, he started writing a large word.
“First, let’s start off by choosing the protagonist.”
Gathered within the club room, we looked at each other.