Korean piano virtuoso Yoonie Han has just released her second CD for the Steinway and Sons record label. It's a piano suite called "Goyescas," composed by Enrique Granados in honor of Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Han will perform the work in concert as part of Sacramento State's piano series on Saturday, February 18th in Capistrano Hall.
Yoonie Han's personal connection to Spanish culture dates back to her middle teens, and it wasn't something she planned. The day after she arrived in Madrid for a summer music festival, she got a rude surprise.
"My passport was stolen," she explains. "And you know I didn't have a credit card and I didn't speak good english... no spanish. So I got stuck in Madrid for two months."
That's how long Han would have to wait before being granted an interview for a visa.
"So what do I do? I mean I was so young and without credit card you cannot really do anything," Han recalls.
The first thing she had to do was find a place to live. As luck would have it, she ran into a Korean family who had just moved to Madrid to run a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately the B&B was booked. So the family invited her to stay at their home for two months.
Making the most of her situation, Han soaked up the country's culture, spending her days at a local museum where she discovered the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Later when she heard the piano suite "Goyescas" by composer Enrique Granados, she was moved to make it part of her own repertoire.
"Granados was amazed by the costumes that they wore in Goya's time and the royal history, and those paintings that capture the spirit, that energy of Spain," says Han of the composer. "And I think Granados did fantastic work to put those inspirations into the piece."