MusicUnitesUs presents: Masters of the Korean traditional music gugak

The group of masters of gugak are visiting campus for a weeklong residency, culminating in performances on March 19 and 20

Yi Ji-young during a performance.

Masters of traditional Korean music will take audiences on an odyssey through the sounds of the stylistically diverse folk music known as gugak in performances March 19 and 20 at Brandeis.

The visiting artists will be on campus for a weeklong residency, culminating with the two performances, through MusicUnitesUS, a program that furthers understanding and appreciation of cultures through music, in association with the Korean Cultural Society of Boston. The residency also includes open classes and workshops in a variety of disciplines.

The program and residency are overseen by professor of the practice of music Judith Eissenberg.

“I have for many years been an admirer of the traditional music from Korea known as gugak, a vast repertoire that ranges from the most elegant and refined music of the court to the intense, all-out expressivity of folk-based p’ansori. This epic song genre is performed with a vocal passion that trumps Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of My Heart,’” Eissenberg said. 

With a range of expression that extends from the elegant banquet music of the courts to the soul-searing passion of folk-based p’ansori, Korean gugak is a window to the history and culture of a people. At its core are the sounds that accompany shaman ritual; from these emerge scattered melodies of sanjo, improvisation of the bluesy sinawi ensemble, and ultimately, the new gugak of the 21st century.

The performances will feature musicians Lee Tae-baek (instruments: ajaeng, janggu), Yi Ji-young (gayageum), Won Wan-chul (daegeum), Lee Suk-joo (piri), Lim Hyeun-bin (p’ansori), and residency curator Hilary Finchum-Sung (haegeum). The concerts and residency are supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Waltham Cultural Council, Brandeis University’s East Asian studies program, and the Korean Cultural Society of Boston. More information on each artist can be found here.

The performances and residency will parallel an art exhibition, “Landscapes of the Soul: Contemporary Korean Art,” at Slosberg Music Center through March 26. The exhibition offers essential elements of both traditional and new expressions of Korean art.

“From Korea: Gugak — Soundscapes of the Soul” performances will be held at 8 p.m., March 19, with a pre-concert talk by Hilary Finchum-Sung at 7 p.m., and 4 p.m., March 20. Both concerts will be held at Slosberg Music Center on the Brandeis campus.

Tickets are $5 for students, $15 for seniors and the Brandeis community, and $20 for the general public. They can be purchased by phone at 781-736-3400, or online.

Categories: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage