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'Christmas with Camarata' resumes after 3 years

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Christmas with Camarata 2018 / Courtesy of Camarata Music Company
Christmas with Camarata 2018 / Courtesy of Camarata Music Company

By Chantal Terblanche

After three long and grueling years, Camarata Music Company is excited to present once again its heavily anticipated "Christmas with Camarata" concert.

With Dr. Ryan Goessl and Martins Baumanis conducting, the concert will include holiday favorites, such as "Jingle Bells," "Joy to the World," "The First Noel," selections from Nutcracker Suite, "O Come All Ye Faithful" and traditional Christmas Carols set with orchestra. This is Camarata Music's largest and most exciting concert of the year.

Goessl, who is the resident conductor and artistic director of the Camarata Music Company, told The Korea Times he is extremely excited to bring back the concert after having to postpone for the last two years due to COVID-19. The choir boasts roughly 80 singers and 50 people in the orchestra for this concert.

"Camarata Music is the largest international non-profit music organization in Korea, and the world's most diverse music organization," he said.

He founded the choir in autumn 2009 with the ambition of just singing Christmas carols. However, he said that after so many people expressed interest, the Camarata Music Company and the Camarata Chorale were born, with them performing Handel's Messiah, complete with an orchestra and choir.

After this auspicious start, they kept building, going from the original choir to now having four choirs, an orchestra, a musical theater team, educational outreach and much more. The choir was shortly featured on a popular local music talent program in 2011, along with being featured in national newspapers. From its high profile, the choir was invited by Lee Myung-bak, South Korea's former president to perform at Cheong Wa Dae for him as well as all the ambassadors and numerous corporate CEOs, as a part of the "World Friends, Korea" event.

"The organization was originally founded to give an opportunity for expats and Koreans to sing together," Goessl said. "We still believe in that concept, and we follow our mission statement to create global communities through the universal language of music."

As Camarata's website states, Goessl works very closely with the leaders and volunteers in the organization to achieve the goal of creating high-level artistry, while experiencing the beauty and friendships created in preparation. He collaborates regularly with top conductors and musicians in Korea and abroad, regularly lectures on various music topics at conventions and festivals and collaborates often with other musicians and ensembles.

Dr. Ryan Goessl speaks after a performance by the Camarata Chorale and Orchestra in Jeonnong Methodist Church, May 21. / Korea Times photo by Jon Dunbar
Dr. Ryan Goessl speaks after a performance by the Camarata Chorale and Orchestra in Jeonnong Methodist Church, May 21. / Korea Times photo by Jon Dunbar

The choir provides collaborative performance opportunities for musicians of all talents and nationalities residing in Korea. The organization has been recognized as one of the most diverse music organizations worldwide and has sung in over 400 concerts in its 13-year history. Camarata presents opportunities for the public to hear classical music performed by people from many different cultures and nationalities.

Goessl has a doctorate in musical arts and choral conducting, and a master's degree in vocal performance. He has worked as a professional singer in opera and musical theater and is currently also working as a vocal coach, teacher and trainer in the greater Seoul area. He teaches classical music students, but also rock, pop and K-pop students. Goessl is an honorary citizen of Seoul, which was an honor given to him in 2018 by the mayor of Seoul for his contributions to culture and the arts. Further, he has postgraduate studies in speech therapy and sound acoustics.

What makes Camarata Music special, particularly the choir, Goessl feels is that they "literally bring people together from all over the world. Not only people from a variety of cultures but a variety of lifestyles as well."

He added, "We have literally every walk of life in the organization, from English teachers to ambassadors, to government officials, to migrant workers, to everywhere in between. People that would normally never meet in their lives, not only meet, but build lifelong friendships in the organization."

He jokes that the organization likes to boast that it has had 27 couples meet from the choirs and orchestras of Camarata, and subsequently get married.

The Camarata Youth Choir, which began in 2015, will also be performing this Saturday. It has grown to approximately 50 singers from around the world and they emphasize the importance of music in a fun, relaxed manner, exposing children to the wonders of music in a multicultural, stress-free environment.

Christmas with Camarata 2018 / Courtesy of Camarata Music Company
Christmas with Camarata 2018 / Courtesy of Camarata Music Company

The event will be held at Chungdong First Methodist Church, starting at 7 p.m. this Saturday. Performances will be done by the Camarata Chorale, Chamber Singers, Youth Choirs, Orchestra and soloists.

Tickets cost 25,000 won in advance, or 35,000 won at the door.
Visit or email for more information.

Chantal Terblanche, from South Africa, lives here with her dog, Samsung. She runs the blog and the Korea Events group on Facebook.

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