03 May

Text by Rick McVicar  

  The stage is set every October in South Korea for the Great Music Festival, where symphonic orchestras featuring musicians who have developmental disabilities perform for grateful audiences.  

  A video about the festival can be found on YouTube, titled: “Great Music Festival: Where Those with Developmental Disabilities Can Realize Their Dreams.” The clip was posted four months ago.   

  The video shows performances of classical music by an orchestra, ensembles and by individual players. A conductor and a mother of a musician tell the story of the festival. They speak Korean with English subtitles.   

  “I think those with disabilities are the same as non-disabled people,” states Kim Gyeong-ja, the mother.   

  She adds that the music festival helps defeat prejudice while enabling people with developmental disabilities to communicate with the world.      

  The festival began in 2017 and has featured a total of about 1,500 musicians. Performers take the stage as members of a team. In 2021, 30 different teams were involved, according to the video.  

  The teams and individual musicians compete for prizes.   

  According to the Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper, festival winners get to play in a special performance in Seoul. The story is told by Esther Chung in “The Winners of the Great Music Festival Celebrate the End of the Year,” Dec. 28, 2021.  

   One of the winners, Lee Yu-bin, talks about what music means to those with developmental disabilities.  

  “I believe music is the universal language of mankind because we can express our thoughts and feelings through music when we cannot communicate with words,” Yu-bin is quoted as saying.  

  The festival is organized by the Heart to Heart Foundation and SK Innovation, according to the news article.  


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