Multimedia: Korean Music Festival Showcases Virtuoso Performers Across Two Nights

NEW YORK, April 11-12, 2014 — Virtuoso musicians in traditional forms took to the stage as Asia Society co-presented its New York Korean Music Festival over two nights with the World Music Center Foundation. Friday, April 11 was devoted to the form known as Sanjo, while the following night's concert centered on Pansori.

A form of solo improvisational instrumental music that has its roots in the culture of Korean indigenous shamanism, Sanjo grew to be the greatest instrumental genre of the 19th century. Cheong Dae Seog, Yi Ji Young, Kang Eunil, and Lee Tae Baek were the musicians featured in Friday's concert.

Pansori, an oral tradition that arose in the 18th century, is a musical drama performed by a single vocalist and a drummer. Lim Hyeun Bin performed Simcheongga, "the Song of Simcheong," with Lee Tae Baek accompanying on buk, or "barrel drum."

Afterwards they were joined by instrumentalists Yi Ji Young and Kang Eunil for a group rendition of the folk song Heungtaryeong, "the Song of Joy." One of the best-known folk songs of Jeolla Province, in southwestern Korea, Heungtaryeong is often sung by professional pansori singers. The title evokes excitement and cheer; however, the song is actually sorrowful, describing the pain and suffering of everyday people, a cultural notion collectively known as han. This paradox is famously described as "by singing sorrows, cheerfulness is evoked."

Download the program notes (PDF)

Video: Highlights from the festival (2 min., 53 sec.)