Friday, January 10, 2014

Sumi Jo, the voice from above, in Manila

From the inbox comes the wonderful news that promises to make 2014 fuller with wonder. Magandang tanghali indeed! The amazing grace that is the voice of Sumi Jo will be heard for the first time in this part of the world. Save the date: Feb. 1!


World-renowned Korean soprano Sumi Jo once said, “Music is a God-given mission for me.” Called the “coloratura soprano with a voice from above” and a Grammy Award winner, she sings in a one-night concert at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. Her collaborating artist is the Philippines' Najib Ismail.

Proceeds from the concert will go to the rehabilitation of Samar through the Tanging Yaman Foundation.

Playing Queen of the Night

Born in Seoul in 1962, Sumi Jo finished a two-year course at Seoul National University College of Music at the top of her Vocal Music class. She enrolled at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Italy in 1983 where she finished the five-year course in just two years.  Three years into her musical experience there, she debuted as Gilda, the female leading role for Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto in October 1986.  She went on to sing in 1988 in Un ballo in maschera, with world-class opera singers including tenor Placido Domingo.

Conductor Herbert von Karajan was looking for a suitable cast during the auditions for this show. He told her,  “You’ve got a voice from above. This is the voice I can hear once in almost a hundred years.” The special bond they made at that moment lasted years all the way to his death. He led her to become one of the world’s top sopranos. 

She once said in a CNN documentary on her life: "Every day when I wake up, I thank God that I can sing. Life is such a precious gift so every day is beautiful to me."

Her musical depth broadened as she became the first Korean soprano to perform at the most prestigious opera houses: La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna State Opera and Théâtre National de l'Opéra de Paris. 

In Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor

She has collaborated with orchestras led by conductors such as Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Lorin Maazel, Daniel Baremboim, Richard Bonygne, Kent Nagano, James Conlon, among others. Recognized for her unparalleled operatic virtuosity, Sumi Jo was named Best Soprano of the Year at the Sixth La Siola d'Oro in Italy in 1993 and received the International Puccini Award in 2008, making her the first non-Italian recipient. 

La Jo is a superb crossover artist and a dog lover. Look for her in YouTube and be floored by her a capella "Amazing Grace," her interpretation of the spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" and Caccini's "Ave Maria." Her voice will fill your failing human tubes and coils with hope and love for the world again.

Aside from winning numerous Grammy Awards, she has extended her musical boundaries beyond classical music. She has sung pop songs, in musicals and in soundtracks, including the movie "The Ninth Gate," featuring Johnny Depp, "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Robert, the series "Mildred Pierce," Korean tele-novelas "Ju-mong", "Lost Empire", "Hu-Jun". This has made her more friendly to pop music fans who she has converted into classical music lovers.

The Korean Cultural Center, together with Edsa Shangri-La Hotel and Steinway & Sons Piano, the Cultural Arts Events Organizer, BusinessWorld, High Life, HerWord, DZFE.FM His Master's Touch and Bulgogi's Brother, will give Filipino music lovers this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For tickets, call 782-7164 or 750-0768, cell phone nos. 0918-347-3027 or 0920-954-0053. Tickets are also available at SM Ticket Outlets, tel. no. 470-2222 or visit

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