Press Release: K-Music 2013 – London’s Festival of Korean Music
Serious presents K-Music 2013, a London-wide celebration of the best of Korean music featuring leading lights of that culture. While we are opening our ears to the sounds of K-Pop and Psy’s Gangnam Style, this wonderful selection of concerts provides a chance to experience a broader, bigger picture of Korean music, which is both innovative and traditional – respectful of the past whilst pushing boundaries.
The highly acclaimed National Orchestra of Korea will open the Festival, performing in London at the Barbican (14 June) for the very first time and the inventive Geomungo Factory, who took Womex by storm last year, will also make their UK debut at the Cadogan Hall (19 June). Korea’s greatest Pansori star, Ahn Sook-Sun, makes a rare appearance for a uniquely Korean ‘Pansori Night’ at the Cadogan Hall (21 June) and Korean rock bands Uhuhboo Project, Kiha & The Faces and Yi Sung Yol will play two gigs at the Scala.
After playing all over the world, the National Orchestra of Korea finally make their British debut. Their new artistic director, Won Il, leads the orchestra, drawing on ancient instruments and the shamanistic traditions of Korea, whilst also embracing the new. Since it was founded in 1995, the NOK has specialised in using traditional Korean instruments in new and exciting ways. Won Il was a founding member of Uhuhboo Project, who can be seen at the Scala, has played London as a member of Baramgot and his music was used in Robert Lepage’s latest work Playing Cards.
Geomungo Factory epitomise what makes Korean culture so special – combining a respect for its distinctive past while staying at the cutting edge of innovation and technology. The geomungo zither is over a thousand years old – a six-stringed instrument played by hitting and plucking, with a deep muscular sound. Geomungo Factory have moved the instrument forward, inventing new versions – the ‘xylophone’ geomungo, the ‘cello’ geomungo and the ‘electric’ geomungo with a wah-wah pedal to create a completely new sound. You can make comparisons with Steve Reich, Portico Quartet, improvised jazz, folk and ambient, but this music sounds totally original. Their album Metamorphosis was released to great acclaim last year. They perform at the Cadogan Hall on 19 June for their debut in the UK.
Pansori is often described as traditional Korean opera, but it is more rooted in folk than that. To be part of a Korean audience at a pansori night is vivid and fun, experiencing the intensity of emotion as the stories are told, whether tragic or funny.
There are just five surviving pansori stories, each with their own character – classic stories of love, heroism, tragedy, self-sacrifice and of humour. Ahn Sook-sun, Korea’s most celebrated pansori star who has played at the Edinburgh International Festival, will perform the Heungbo-ga, which is largely a comic story of two brothers, one good and one bad, with a lot of grief along the way. As she puts it, “I can create an empathy with the audience, they can feel the breathing and sense the emotion through the tone of voice.” K-Music’s ‘Pansori Night’, featuring Ahn Sook-sun, is at the Cadogan Hall on 21 June.
There are two Scala concerts by exciting Korean bands, well-known in Seoul but new to European ears. Uhuhboo Project were one of Pina Bausch’s favourite bands, and Korean film director Park Chan-Wook raved about the band, who’ve retained an underground reputation in Korea. For their Scala show on 16 June, they’ve invited David Thomas and his legendary band Pere Ubu to share the stage with them, making a really sensational double bill.
June 20 at the Scala sees a combination of two bands who are sure to pull out every Korean rock fan in London – Yi Sung Yol, a terrific singer who’s featured in a string of Korean films, and Kiha & The Faces, a hugely popular rock band led by singer and composer Chang Kiha, who turns Korean into a natural language for off-centre rock lyrics.
Right across the programme, K-Music 2013 celebrates what Korea has to offer today, bringing together the ancient and the modern.
The National Orchestra of Korea Friday 14 June Barbican
Uhuhboo Project + Pere Ubu Sunday 16 June Scala
Geomungo Factory Wednesday 19 June Cadogan Hall
Yi Sung Yol + Kiha & The Faces Thursday 20 June Scala
Pansori Night – Ahn Sook-Sun Friday 21 June Cadogan Hall
For full details of all shows visit serious.org.uk/K-Music
K-Music Festival 2013 is in conjunction with Korean Cultural Centre UK
Stay tuned to hellokpop for more details coming your way soon.
Source: Sally Reeves for Serious